Burgemeester Ontbijtbijeenkomst Ambassadeurs en CEO’s op Vakantiebeurs 2019

Toespraak burgemeester Jan van Zanen

Utrecht, Koninklijke Jaarbeurs, 9 januari 2019

Your excellencies, distinguished guests,

Welcome to Utrecht, welcome to the heart, the very heart of the Netherlands, welcome to Royal Jaarbeurs. In one hour and 45 minutes our country's main event in the area of travel and tourism will open its doors. This 49th edition of the Vakantiebeurs will, like its predecessors, draw more than a hundred thousand visitors to Utrecht. Visitors looking for information about possible holidays or about holidays they already have booked. About new destinations. About possible daytrips.

And of course, the Vakantiebeurs is a nice daytrip in itself. With its ample possibilities of creating new contacts and making new discoveries. Holidays not only being an inspiring, but also a connecting aspect of modern life. A source of mutual interest and friendship between people in the world.

Regrettably, in international politics and trade, the main themes were, in 2018, not freedom and connection, but discord and restriction. Between some countries, there are trade conflicts. Migration is still a controversial subject. Here in Europe, Brexit continues to dominate the news. One would almost forget the power of friendship and cooperation between nations, between economies, between people.

And that power exists, also in recent history: an impressive example of the fruitful effects of exchange between cultures in the past, can be seen right now in our own Central Museum. A splendid exhibition reveals how young 17th century Utrecht painters visited Italy, looking for inspiration in the works of their famous colleague Caravaggio. With a host of beautiful paintings as a result, many of which can be enjoyed here in Utrecht until March the 24th.

Often, sports have similar, connecting effects. I saw this myself during the Olympic Games in Rio and the European Women's Football Championships. In Utrecht, the celebration of the Dutch victory in 2017 felt like a great family party. The Giro d'Italia called at Utrecht in 2010. In 2015, the City of Utrecht hosted the Grand Départ of the Tour de France. And next year, the Vuelta a España will start in Utrecht. Generating many new contacts in the fields of sports, culture and tourism and an increasing general awareness of the importance of a sporty and healthy lifestyle.

No less than culture and sports, tourism is capable of uniting countries, cultures and continents, playing the role of counterweight against any current trend of polarization in the world. That is of great importance. Since it is not discord and restriction that lead to peace, liberty and prosperity in the world, but connection, friendship, hospitality and cooperation.

Especially in a world where more and more people live in cities. Cities that, therefore, face the challenge to find ways to realize healthy urban living for their inhabitants.

Again, this is only possible by means of connection and cooperation. Combining the knowledge and experience of different worlds: those of science business and government. Connection and cooperation, hospitality and partnership are the only effective ways to create healthy cities for healthy people in a healthy world. Wherever you are on our planet.

With this message of inclusiveness, the City of Utrecht is sure to be able to inspire you, your country, its inhabitants and companies. Inviting you with great pleasure to enjoy this great Holiday Fair, to undergo our city’s atmosphere and - above all - to repeat your visit. Thank you very much.

Uw mening