Chaired by Tony Travers of the London School of Economics, and including a presentation by Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times, it will feature the European Commission who will speak about its priorities for tourism.
It has been widely recognised that Europe is losing competitiveness in nearly all of the major inbound markets. There will be a summary of research into this phenomenon and an analysis of what might be the causes of Europe’s loss of business. The obvious factors range from difficulties with the high taxation of tourism exports, challenging entry requirements, transport capacity and tourism regulations which date from the 1970’s. The conference will seek to discover what the perspective is in the origin markets. What is happening to demand? What do customers think?
Russia is the largest “external” provider of visitors to Europe. Fedor Egorov from DaTravel.com and Mari Badakh from ITE Group Plc will consider the impact of the current visa regime and prospects for change. They will also explore the recent rise in Russian “staycations” and if there is any reality in their leading to a suppression in demand. As Russia is also a European Destination, how it has changed over the last twenty five years will also be touched on.
The increase in visitors from China has been one of the most heralded phenomena in European tourism. Ian Baker from Kuoni and Chao Fang from Business Horizon will discuss this growing and volatile market. They will consider what impact any change in the luxury tax might have on have on Chinese spending habits. Demand has been largely driven by hybrid “business tourism” packages. Are we seeing a move towards genuine leisure travel? They will also address fears that the proposed introduction of biometric visas might have a negative impact on demand for Europe.
The US remains the most important market in terms of spend. But Europe is being outstripped by rising demand for other long haul destinations. Jennifer Tombaugh of Tauck, Luca Romozzi of Expedia and Chris Pomeroy of MMGY Global will explore if this this is due to a changing perception of Europe. The appeal of European culture in North America used to be vital: the US invented the “European Vacation”. Has its unique appeal faded? Are there any sectors that Europe could do more to attract? How can we work together to reverse the trend?
Each session will be preceded by a short statistical summary on the state of the market.
Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA said: “All of these panellists will be addressing the central questions: what can we do to make our destination more appealing and what can we do to make our customers feel more welcome? We need to see ourselves as our customers do, and understand what initiatives are needed and what faults can be remedied,”
Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of ETC, said: “With the growth of visitors visiting multiple countries, the brand of Europe is more important than ever. And the best way we can boost numbers, and so jobs, is by working with the private sector to understand what our potential customers want. This is a process of which this conference is the start.”