The European Travel Commission (ETC) has published a handbook that explores the mitigation and recovery strategies deployed by National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) across Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of sharing knowledge and supporting destinations to rebuild the European tourism sector.
COVID-19 has caused changes in the way that NTOs are perceived, with diverse stakeholder groups relying on NTOs for data, insights, guidance and to help spread key messages. National tourism authorities have had to adapt quickly to the challenging situation caused by border closures, lockdowns being imposed and changes in consumer preferences and behaviour.
NTOs now have a crucial role to play in guiding their national tourism sectors in preparation for recovery, and in building confidence among consumers to travel again. The handbook aims to provide NTOs with strategic recommendations to build a more resilient and sustainable tourism sector, restore travel confidence and support the development of a new tourism ecosystem.
Rebuilding tourism across Europe
As businesses and communities rebuild following the pandemic, it is vital to ensure that this recovery takes place in a way that reduces the negative impacts of tourism on the environment and local communities, while providing a more balanced and equitable contribution to economic growth. NTOs should start by developing a vision for the sustainable future of tourism in their country that is based on wide-ranging consultation with communities, businesses of all sizes and professionals from other sectors.
If managed well, the coming months could present a unique opportunity for NTOs to assume a new, refreshed role, leading the transition of the tourism sector:
- To a low-carbon economy
- To community-based renewal of destinations, and;
- In adjusting to shifting consumer values in a post-COVID-19 world
Changes in consumer travel preferences have already become evident in 2020, including a greater concern about personal wellbeing, air quality and man-made environmental impacts. There has been a strong preference towards domestic travel as well as spending time in open spaces and undertaking active holidays, such as hiking and cycling. Many European NTOs have expressed their hope that these new tourist behaviour patterns will become more permanent.