Esteemed Vice Mayor of Beijing,
Dear Secretary-General of WTCF,
Dear WTCF members,
After a successful first day of the WTCF Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit I am happy to officially welcome you to the Helsinki City Hall and this dinner hosted by the City of Helsinki – honoring all our distinguished guests.
This hall is an important part of Helsinki’s history. Russian Emperor Alexander I of Russia moved the Finnish capital to Helsinki in 1812. To mark this transition a German architect Carl Ludvig Engel designed the most important public buildings for the new capital.
The old part of this building was original created as a hotel and then became the center of the societal life of Helsinki. Many important music and theatrical pieces got their first performances in these halls. Also, the first ever movie in Finland was seen here. When the city decided to create a new city hall to these premises the decision was fortunately made to preserve the old hotel buildings.
Tonight it is our turn to show these walls that our ability to have fun exceeds the hotel guests of over 150 years ago.
Travel is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. It gives employment to all kinds of people from different backgrounds and professionals situations. It maintains and develops businesses small and large. It exposes us to new cultures, traditions and ways of life. It gives us new horizons and understanding about ourselves and each other.
The reasons to travel are pretty much the same as they were a thousand years ago – the expectation that the world holds something more, something meaningful that does not exist in our immediate surrounding. The sense of discovery drives us to land, sea and air. Take risks we would normally avoid. A french writer Andre Gide has said “man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”.
Only by joining forces like we have done today we can ensure that this sense of discovery is available also to the generations to come. It is our responsibility to ensure that travel of the future will be sustainable and smart. That new technologies and digital innovations will be taken advantages of. That we don’t loose the sight of local well-being in our quest for more profits from travel. That we are able to cater for individual needs without exhausting the resources of our common planet.
The past generations, and us, have been given the gift of the great cultural heritage sites of China from thousands of years ago, the beautiful old town of Tallinn from hundreds of years back and the ageless archipelago of Helsinki. Let’s make sure we are able to offer these gifts and more on to the next generation.
Welcome to the Helsinki City Hall!