Burgemeester Opening ontbijtsessie Vakantiebeurs met ambassadeurs

Toespraak burgemeester Jan van Zanen

Utrecht, Jaarbeurs, 10 januari 2017

Your excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the Jaarbeurs, welcome to Utrecht. And if there is one event the City of Utrecht is happy to host, it is the Vakantiebeurs. Since, for a period of five days, Utrecht is not only the heart, the very heart of the Netherlands, but also the heart of the whole world.

More than a thousand stands from all countries, all continents of the globe populate the Jaarbeurs floors. Presenting themselves, as enticingly as possible, as destinations for private holidays and the business travel market. Called in, like every year, by more than a hundred thousand visitors, looking for ideas or a promising anticipation of their holidays.

This year's edition bears as a motto 'As if you're already there'. Which is a motto that, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, applies even more to the City of Utrecht, since that’s where we really are now.

A city which, itself, is not only the destination of yearly about 600 thousand foreign visitors, but also of more than 50 international congresses. Part of these take place here, at the Jaarbeurs premises. But companies and scientific institutions have a rich choice of attractive locations in and around the city.

At least three aspects make our city and its surrounding region particularly attractive destinations for foreign guests, for either holidays, a congress or a business trip.

In the first place its easy accessibility from all corners of the country, the continent, the world. Our new Central Station, officially opened last month, even improved this. From Schiphol Airport, it is only half an hour by train (Utrecht Central station is an entrance and gateway to Schiphol Airport one could say). Besides, there are direct rail and motorway connections with Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and for instance Germany.

But all of this wouldn’t do without a city, which is, like Utrecht, attractive and dynamic in itself. Utrecht is not only the city where Miffy was born, it's also the place with the country's most beautiful medieval heart. With an atmosphere not unlike some Italian cities. As well as a youthful, relaxed and open minded place, where anyone feels home quickly. Where setting off for your congress location or for your hotel by bicycle, is the best way to get acquainted with the city, its atmosphere and people.

But there is another aspect which is probably even more important, backing up the power of Utrecht as a fitting location for a congress event. That's the presence, in our city, of relatively many highly qualified, internationally orientated companies and institutions. Partly larger organizations, like the University, the University of Applied Sciences, the Rabobank or the Academic Hospital. Partly smaller ones, reflecting the high average education and spirit of enterprise of our working population.

Many of our companies and institutions are specialized in one of the great challenges of the modern world: 'healthy urban living'. More and more people, everywhere in the world, live in cities, urging new and creative measures in the field of energy, healthcare, and environment.

All Utrecht people gathered here, will be eager to report about the ways our city, in this respect, acts as an experimental garden. A garden whose residents know each other and each other’s talents by heart. Embodying with pleasure our city’s role as a hospitable meeting place that refuses to feel washed over. As, I trust, this breakfast session will prove convincingly. Enjoy the Vakantiebeurs and happy new year. Thank you very much.