It is widely acknowledged today that aviation makes a significant contribution to the tourism industry - over 52% of international tourists travel by air. Europe is ranked as the second aviation market worldwide, after North America, and holding the first position for international passenger traffic.
In a Joint Statement ACI Europe and ETC emphasised their support for Open Sky policies and free aviation market access as essential pillars for the development of a competitive and successful travel & tourism sector.
After an absence from active ETC affairs of around one and a half years, I decided to become more closely involved once again, given that, since January 2016, Malta accepted its turn by rotation to serve on the organisation’s Board of Directors. Following the Vice Presidential vacancy created by the departure of our Portuguese colleague, I submitted my candidature for ETC Vice President and would sincerely like to thank the members who voted me in by such a strong show of support during the ETC General Meeting #91 in Cyprus!
My response to this faith which our members have shown in me shall consist of an unwavering commitment to assist the Board of Directors, so ably chaired by our President Peter de Wilde and the Executive Unit, led by Executive Director Eduardo Santander and his wonderful team.
In my Vice Presidential duties, besides, deputising for our President together with the other two Vice Presidents should the need arise, I also carry the advocacy for Connectivity which is a very important and topical subject inextricably linked to a destination’s competitiveness and growth prospects.
Tourism is all about people travelling away from their usual place of residence. As tourism figures grow, trip durations get shorter and gaps between booking and departure continue to narrow, making tourism a more impulsive activity than it ever was, the ease of travelling between a tourist’s area of residence and the selected destination increases in importance.
The concept of connectivity encompasses a wide range of issues which affect tourists’ travel choices ranging from the choice between direct flights and connections, frequency of services, accessibility of small destinations to the major European gateways, seasonality, ease of connecting between different carriers and choice of destinations available from one’s closest airport/s. It also inter-relates with a broader range of issues encompassing fields such as security, border formalities, the constantly shifting sands of the aviation world and the thin line which separates airline and route profitability from a destination’s desired seat capacity. The potentially direct relationship between the expansion in airline activity being witnessed at present and the price of fuel is also a phenomenon which requires closer examination, particularly in view of the implications which may result from an eventual increase in oil prices.
As you can see, this advocacy carries with it a challenging and interesting responsibility which will entail a wide programme of initiatives ranging from discussions at a European level to meetings with important airline players and the establishment of contacts and discussions with the aviation world. The experience I have acquired as a result of Malta’s quest to constantly improve its airline connectivity over the past years is an asset which I intend to use in conjunction with the skills, contacts and expertise within the Executive Unit.
Connectivity is one of the most important components of the entire tourism chain and we should never simply leave the development of such an important component to chance. This is where the ETC, with its Europe-wide and diverse membership can contribute in another practical manner not only to its direct members but to the sustainable development of European tourism in general.
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