USTOA in TravelPulse

Published May 10, 2013 12:00AM

ETC Hosts Transatlantic Conference for the First Time in Three Years

By James Ruggia, May 10, 2013 5:08 PM


The European Travel Commission (ETC) held its first European Transatlantic Conference in three years yesterday on Europe Day, a day that commemorates the founding of the European Union. About 150 professionals from national tourist offices, tour operations, hotels, travel agencies, airlines and the media gathered at New York City’s iconic public library. Three panels tackled the challenges and opportunities for Brand Europe in North America. On Wednesday the ETC unveiled the first quarterly report on European Tourism in 2013 - Trends & Prospects. The panels were comprised of officials from the World Travel and Tourism Council, the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the European Tourism Operators Association, the European Commission, the United States Tour Operators Association, Amadeus, Orbitz and TripAdviser.

The main issues to surface in the conference concerned Europe’s diminishing market share as travelers discover new destinations in Asia, Africa and the Americas. The high price of airfares and air fees, the budget cuts hampering national tourist offices were all raised. The ETC is optimistic about further growth in travel from the US, where consumer spending has remained strong despite the threat of imminent spending cuts. In 2012 Europe attracted 11.2 million Americans. 

“The good news is that a Pricewater House Survey of our tour operator members showed that 88 percent of them expect an increase in European business in 2013 and a third of our members believe that growth will exceed 10 percent, said Terry Dale, President, USTOA. “The bad news is that we all reach a fatigue and we have to continue to find ways to talk about Europe in an exciting and new manner.” USTOA, said Dale, is launching a new campaign using YouTube sensation Matt Harding whose signature is to post videos of himself dancing around the world. Harding has received 85 million views on YouTube. 

International arrivals and nights to Europe for the first months of 2013 point to a slower, but continued growth for most of the reporting destinations. The day began with a majestic speech by naturalist, entrepreneur, author and TV producer Richard Bangs who gave a detailed history of how Europe basically invented the notion of adventure tourism as an expression of the seminal romantic movement of the early 19th century. 

Air transport statistics indicate that tourism demand remains robust from long-haul markets, with travel on European routes growing at a slightly faster rate moving into 2013. Occupancy in European hotels has also been higher than a year earlier, with growth apparent in all sub-regions. Much of Europe’s performance will hinge on intra-European travel where several economies have been hit hard in recent years. 

The European Union has invested 1.2 million Euros in Destination Europe 2020. In order to gather research and set a strategy going forward. “Right now, said Manuel Butler, the new executive director of the ETC and the CEO of Tourspain, “Europe’s image isn’t too good because of the economic crisis. Tourism offers a tremendous potential to change those perceptions. Destination Europe 2020 gives us a longterm program to stimulate inbound travel. It’s true Asia is booming, but the U.S. and Europe have a 500 year old relationship that makes the U.S. Europe’s number one market.” 

“The U.S. dwarfs every other market for Europe,” said Tom Jenkins, the president of ETOA. “When there’s even a slight fluctuation in U.S. travel to Europe it is felt very strongly.” 

The ETC is comprised of 33 national tourist office members. It was created in 1948 to promote Europe as a tourism destination to the long-haul markets outside Europe, originally in the USA and later in Canada, Latin America and Asia.


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