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Industry leaders discuss how to re-energise tourism to Europe

LONDON – WTM 2014 – REPORT: Structural and legal handicaps, insufficient promotional funds and increasing competition threaten Europe’s position as no. 1 tourist destination.

LONDON – WTM 2014 – REPORT: A panel of tourism leaders from the public and private sector, meeting at the World Travel Market, discussed what Europe needs to do to stem its declining share of world tourism, as growth in emerging markets outpaces the ‘old continent’.

Eduardo Santander, CEO of the European Travel Commission (ETC), reported that Europe reached a record 563.8 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, representing a market share of almost 52%, while tourism receipts totalled 368.5 billion euros, corresponding to a share of around 42% of global tourism expenditure. European destinations are expected to grow by 2.1% a year on average in the coming years, 0.3% slower than previously, whereas worldwide international arrivals will grow much faster by 3.5%. “It is essential to increase funds to promote Europe as a unique destination, especially in third country markets, where there is growing demand”, said Santander. “If not, Europe’s share of international tourism will decline even more rapidly”.

In fact, half of all international arrivals to Europe are currently generated by only 8 markets, mainly intra-regional, with modest growth rates. This statistic points on the one hand to risks of a growth slowdown, but on the other, to the potential to attract more visitors from a larger portfolio of markets, especially in the fast growing economies overseas.

“Some emerging origin markets such as Russia and China have become much more important recently, with strong growth in household wealth and spending power. However, these two markets combined still only represented 7% of tourism arrivals in 2013”, pointed out Martin Craigs, CEO of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). “China remains of strategic importance for destinations in Europe in the medium to long term for its immense growth potential”.

However, the current highly complex regulatory framework, separate visa policies, air passenger duty and a lack of a clear brand image are still creating hassle and expense, and “prevent these people from visiting”, said Tom Jenkins, CEO of the European Tourism Association, ETOA. “These are priority areas that need to be address urgently by all the relevant authorities”. Tom Jenkins also presented some “alarming home truths” such as the loss of attention on the US as an origin market, considering that outbound tourism from the USA still dwarfs that of emerging markets by an order of magnitude, and the need for a surge in inbound tourism to reverse poor export performance in some European countries.

PINAKAS

Pedro Ortun, Director Tourism of the European Commission, stated that tourism can be a powerful tool to fight against the short and long-term structural challenges that Europe has recently faced, such as aging populations, the euro crisis and growing (youth) unemployment. “Tourism contributes to 9% of GDP and 10% of the workforce in the EU”, said Ortun. “Since 95% of enterprises in tourism are SMEs, tourism encourages the entrepreneurial spirit and ensures jobs for Europeans instead of creating outsourced jobs to other countries. It is the Commission’s aim to ensure Europe’s visibility as a unique destination and we are implementing several initiatives to support tourism growth”. One of those initiatives is ‘Destination Europe 2020’, a joint program with the ETC, to promote Europe, based on market intelligence, industry consultation and a greater use of technology.

The leaders’ debate was followed by the unveiling of the new VisitEurope.com portal, built by ETC/s technology partner Amadeus in conjunction with the international travel marketing alliance Travel Consul. The new website guides potential travellers on a journey, beginning with inspiration about a European holiday to planning the trip and sharing ideas. “The visiteurope.com portal is a state of the art platform that will engage a new generation of digitally sophisticated travellers and drive them to action”, said ETC’s Marketing Manager Miguel Gallego. He explained that the new portal is the result of nearly 20 years of online experience and extensive research conducted over the past two years.

Robert Patterson, Vice President of Content and Social Strategy at Travel Consul’s MMGY, explained how the new site was developed. “Our storytelling provides momentum for travellers seeking a pan-European experience that goes beyond the mere recitation of historical facts”, he said. Making use of full width images and a minimal menu structure, the portal offers an immersive, friendly user experience where inspirational imagery does all the talking. With a balanced mix of pictures and small content modules within a grid system, the smart portal design allows users to see a wide range of information, spanning over 30 different countries, within a single page. The user journey is choreographed according to themes, to ensure visitors progressively discover more and more that is of real interest to them.

Photo caption (left to right): Edurordo Santander, CEO of the European Travel Commission, Tom Jenkins, CEO of the European Tourism Association, and Pedro Ortun, Director Tourism of the European Commission.

Vicky Karantzavelou
Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.

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