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Stanislava Blagoeva ETTFA President ITE Exhibitions Managing Director

TravelDailyNews: Mrs Blagoeva, ETTFA has already 20 exhibitions – members, which are among the most important travel & tourism fairs in Europe. How do you see the future of the European Travel & Tourism Fairs Association?

Stanislava Blagoeva: As we decided at the last assembly, ETTFA will be more open and will welcome more members. We already have three new members, one is the exhibition in Belgade, the other is Ukrain International Travel Market, and the last one will be voted in near future, and it is an exhibition in Rimini.

TDN: These new exhibitions are competitors with some of the exhibitions that you already have. What is your philosophy for the competition, and for the position of tourism in the EU?

S.B.:The philosophy of ETTFA is the following. We are no competitors, we are members of an association and we help each other, with the clients and with the promotion. ETTFA will be stronger with the European Union. I believe that we are in a revolutionary period. The EU is becoming bigger and bigger, is developing relations with China, and is voting regulations for the tourism industry. We voted the World Tourism Organisation to become an agency in EU for the travel and tourism Industry. In our times in all European countries travel and tourism is the main industry. The whole industry is becoming organized in the EU, we open new doors, and especially the code for tourism, which just is accepted by every country. As I came from an Eastern Country, I know the difficulties when you are out the circle of the privileges: there are limits. Tourism is not about limits. Tourism is about making the choice of freedom.

TDN: What is your opinion for the visa, and its difficulties?

S.B.:Now is becoming much easier with the European Union. The procedures will became faster with the Internet, people apply for the visa on the Internet, and get it on line. With the new technologies things in tourism will be developed. Many Eastern European counties still have limitation with the visas. This is the main issue among the ministers of tourism and between Europe and China.

TDN: What is your opinion on the matter that there are lots of travel exhibitions and that the outcome of many of them is only public relations and not business? Do you believe the travel exhibitions are declined?

S.B.:It depends on how you see it. In the age of technology, developing more and more accessibility is freedom, as freedom is accessibility. I strongly believe that exhibitions wouldn’t be replaced from anything. Exhibitions are still the market place. According to lections on the history of exhibitions, they aren’t few years ago a separate industry. Now lots of universities and countries consider exhibitions as the main vehicle for developing MICE. And MICE is the target of any county and any city. ETTFA represents most of the general trade events in tourism, but we shouldn’t forget there are MICE events as well, events that they are dedicated to the exhibition industry on its own like conferences, conventions.

I consider that as part of the travel and tourism industry because in a way, we create the inbound of these cities. The exhibition industry is the major buyer in MICE. Now there are some universities in the world that have event management courses, there is a master degree in the Milan University, which is part of the tourism management sector of the university. So more and more counties and governments pay more attention to develop this.

TDN: What ETTFA do for its members? Give us some practical things.

S.B.:The number one that ETTFA offers to its members is information, which is very important. Information and source is that all of us need. In the exhibition industry, all of us share the same clients. Travel and Tourism industry might be the bigger industry in the world, but we are like a family. We are a club of people that move around the world and do the same job every season. We meet each other all over the world, as well as at each event. Each one of these events has the same structure, the same issues, and the same clients. We have to meet its each and discuss how to improve organization, to talk with every body else, the members of public, and the press. Furthermore, we are more and more consider about issues in the industry, as we discuss about the issue of visa, the new EU rules, and more general issues that we discuss with WTO such as poverty.

Also there are a number of countries that we help exhibit, I would say the emerging markets, because I hate the expression ‘third world’. Emerging market is the word, of developing markets. As ETTFA, we help them by promoting them through our events. Furthermore, we support the local industry, which has suffered a lot, like former Yugoslavia and the Balkans, from different political issues.

The other thing is that the members of ETTFA are exhibitions from different markets so, there is a tremendous knowledge from all these markets, and the market knowledge is very important for the exhibitions.

TDN: Again I will ask if there is any conflict on that.

S.B.:There is no conflict on that. Lets see the Russian Market. In the World Travel Market always there are Russian exhibitors, but if someone wants to see the Russian industry must exhibit in MITT in Moscow. In WTM Russians sell the inbound, in MITT there is the Russian outbound. So, none of us is real competitor, and our aim is to help each other.

TDN: Do you plan to offer to your members some tools like a centralize management software for exhibitions?

S.B.:There are lots of companies that offer some systems, and there are many efforts to create a system for the exhibitions that would be like a CRS system. I believe is too early for exhibitions, because it is a very fragmented industry as it represents different segments of the exhibition, suppliers, exhibition organizers, venues, convetion centers, etc.

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