“Tourism is Europe’s face to the world”, proclaimed Arthur Oberascher, president of the thirty-eight member European Travel Commission (ETC). He went on to say, “the ‘new Europe’ is a vital part of Europe’s appeal”. It was thus particularly appropriate that the ETC was holding its semi-annual meetings in the Bulgarian capital.
Oberascher explained that the idea at the core of the European Travel Commission, is that its members could be more successful together than they could individually.
Membership of the ETC by the countries of eastern and southeastern Europe benefited both them and European tourism as a whole. ETC provides less well-known destinations with a platform on which they can present themselves on long-haul markets. At the same time, Europe’s tourism faces the challenge of growing global competition. The lands of southeastern Europe such as Bulgaria represent a diversification of the continent’s tourism product, attracting potential guests with new destinations and new experiences. This could also help counteract seasonality and encourage the development of sustainable tourism on a continent-wide basis.
Also held in Sofia was the ETC’s annual executive summit, which was dedicated to the theme of operational excellence. The event is intended to provide a forum for the directors of national tourism organizations to examine and discuss key issues of strategic importance to tourism. The executive summit was the third in the series; previous topics having included e-marketing and market intelligence.
An element of operational excellence was networking and partnership with other organizations. Oberascher described the ETC as a “knowledge network for tourism”. This network, with the exchange of best practice and expertise it made possible, was a valuable resource for the tourism authorities of the region. The ETC thus made a valuable contribution to building the institutional framework for the development of tourism in the region.