European Cities Marketing call for an open and permanent dialogue between European institutions and local destinations

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Photos by Pixabay

Travel & Tourism is one of the world’s largest economic sectors, supporting 1 in 10 jobs (330 million) worldwide, and generating 10.3% of global GDP (source: WTTC). In 2019, the sector represented 30% of the world’s exports of services (US$1.5 trillion) and up to 45% of the total export of services in developing countries (source: UNWTO).

ECM, this is the only association in Europe gathering 125 city destinations under one roof. In Europe, cities are the clear leaders of the European tourism Industry and altogether we represent more than 633 million international tourist bednights (source: ECM Benchmarking Report 2019). It is imperative for ECM to enable members to align their own strategic agenda with whatever demands, challenges and opportunities the future will bring.

Europe owns the world’s most visited cities and regions as well as leading outbound markets. City tourism is the most dominant and dynamic aspect of European tourism, European cities are highly resilient, and despite political shocks and terrorist attacks, they have remained the most attractive spots for visitors from all over the world. They attract people and encourage them to thrive.

The visitor economy developed in cities benefit the destinations’ social inclusion, cultural repertoire and relations, knowledge societies and local communities. Meetings in cities are a key facilitator of economic development; they are responsible for all of the factors that drive business or professional development and they build the knowledge economy of the future: innovation, product development, knowledge transfer, legacy, and network creation.

Travel, tourism and hospitality are amongst the most affected sectors in this unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, the closing down of entire cities and countries, travel restrictions and bans have brought the tourism and transportation sectors to a standstill.

From the biggest airline to the smallest hotel in a rural community, the sector has been halted. The impact is economic and social, affecting the livelihoods of tourism and transport workers and  suppliers, as well as their families and whole communities. Destinations are all hit, no matter of size, geographical location, attractiveness… their reputation as safe places are highly challenged.

Photo by visitFrankfurt

However, the tourism sector is in a unique position to contribute to wider recovery plans and actions.  Therefore, ECM calls the European Union and EU member states to run harmonized and coordinated responses to achieve recovery.

Restore confidence in travelling and change the negative perceptions about tourism. It is highly important to re-establish the image of Europe as a safe and accessible destination and build a European campaign to accelerate recovery.

Reopening borders in a consistent way to enable harmonised leisure and tourism travel between EU member states, foster unity and strengthen European domestic tourism.

Europe needs destinations to succeed and support the economy. Social and economic cohesion is within cities. We call EU Member States to financially support tourism initiatives which will quickly benefit the destinations’ social inclusion, cultural offering, knowledge hubs and local communities.

ECM, together with ETOA, NecsTOUR and ICCA ask to establish an open and permanent dialogue between European institutions and local destinations. In the name of European cities, ECM proposes to open this dialogue and lead a task force to bring Europe back on track and strengthen the single market. Travel and Tourism is uniquely equipped to be part of sustainable global recovery efforts going beyond tourism, better for the planet and the people.

All of this makes it even more imperative that the global tourism sector is supported both at this time of crisis and as societies enter the recovery phase.

Petra Stusek

ECM President

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