Ladies and Gentlemen, valued Partners, friends of the Danube,
Just thirty years ago the Danube was divided between East and West, separated by barbed wire and soldiers. This is almost impossible to imagine today.
Fortunately we live in different times: the Danube is once again part of a united Europe, indeed it runs through its heart, The Danube unites the two halves of the continent flowing without hindrance through lands that have benefited politically, economically, and touristically from the fall of the Iron Curtain, and membership of the European Union of most of the states along its course.
We have succeeded in overcoming the past, gained perspective and now have to master the challenges of present and future together. Tourism is the emotional bracket; it brings people together through the discovery of each other’s cultures, nature and cuisine.
At this year’s conference we thus want to look back at the opening of the Danube, unhindered navigation and all the possibilities that the river offers with its different countries, bustling cities, landscapes, peoples, and diversity of touristic opportunities.
This is why we have chosen Building Bridges—Thirty Years of the Free Danube as the theme of this year’s conference. Slovakia’s minister for transport and construction, Mr. Arpád Érsek, has graciously undertaken to act as patron of the 24th Danube Shipping and Tourism Conference.
I look forward to welcoming you at the conference, and remain
With very best wishes,
Professor Gerhard Skoff
Vienna, June 2019