On 18-20 May 2022, the heads of Europe’s national tourist boards met in Ljubljana, Slovenia, for the 103rd General Meeting of the European Travel Commission (ETC). This meeting, hosted by the Slovenian Tourist Board, brought together CEOs of national tourism authorities (NTOs) from across Europe, as well as ETC associate members from private industry, to discuss the state of Europe’s tourism sector and the risks associated with its restart following the pandemic.
The meeting had a record turnout, with 31 of the 34 members present. The tragedy occurred before the summer season, which will be vital to the rehabilitation of the European tourism sector following the devastation caused by Covid-19.
Despite their optimism about the summer’s excellent chances for recovery, delegates could not overlook new problems confronting Europe’s travel sector, such as global inflation and the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian conflict.
Mariana Oleskiv, Chairperson of Ukraine’s State Agency for Tourism Development (SATD), participated in the General Meeting online as an honored guest. She detailed “the devastation caused by the Russo-Ukrainian conflict on Ukraine’s tourism industry. European NTOs reaffirmed their sympathy with Ukraine and encouraged Ukraine’s tourist agency to become the 35th member of ETC, giving a three-year gratis membership”.
This pledge, approved unanimously and with a standing ovation, will see ETC provide SATD with access to all of its resources, research data, and best practices to assist it in planning its post-war recovery. Furthermore, ETC and its members have agreed to share the work that SATD is undertaking in Ukraine for the industry.
Embedding sustainable practices in tourism have long been a goal for NTOs, ETC is adamant that it will continue to be a primary emphasis in the industry despite conflicting crises such as the ongoing pandemic, rising energy prices, and the crisis in Ukraine.
Considering these hurdles, the event focused on how to continue encouraging firms to focus on a sustainable and green transformation. Speakers from Business Finland and Scottish Enterprise joined Peter Jordan, Head of Insights at Toposophy, to explain the many practical methods they have taken in establishing sustainability toolkits and decarbonization strategies for mobilizing tourist business groups in respective nations.
Commenting on the General Meeting, ETC President Luís Araújo stated: “National tourist authorities throughout Europe are right to be hopeful about the resurgence in tourism predicted for this summer. However, it would be remiss of them to turn a blind eye to challenges on the horizon. It has been encouraging to see the brightest minds in the sector come together to strategize on the geopolitical and environmental issues that will impact us in the months and years ahead.”