Championing European tourism - and Europe.
Europe's tourism faces many challenges.
One of the most important challenges is ensuring that tourism's economic significance is properly recognised
and understood by Europe's political institutions. The sector is still widely taken for granted, still seen as
lightweight and not a serious business. It is not perceived as what it really is: an industry that generates
directly and indirectly an estimated 11 percent of the European Union's GDP, and provides jobs for eight
million people. An industry, moreover, that can help the European Union to realise the goal set in its Lisbon
strategy for Europe to become `the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world'.
Another critical challenge is halting the decline in Europe's market share. This may seem odd at a time when
the global tourism market is growing fast. A time when new markets with tremendous potential are opening up:
economic growth in China, Russia and India (and elsewhere) will result in millions of potential guests. Indeed, by any statistical yardstick,
Europe is still the world's tourism superpower.
'The new European portal will motivate
people from all over the world
Yet Europe's market share is falling. How can we in ETC halt this erosion
of Europe's market share, develop emerging and traditional markets, raise
to visit Europe'
tourism's profile, and give ETC members greater added value? How can we
motivate our potential guests to come to Europe and how can we give them the European experience they expect?
The answer lies in focussing our efforts. In 2004, ETC members agreed a bold new vision and strategy for the organisation that will allow
us to do just that. We identified three issues which we consider to be fundamental to the competitiveness and success of both the
European tourism industry and our members individually. Issues, indeed, that underline the nature of tourism in the 21st century
as an information- and knowledge-based industry: e-marketing, market intelligence and operational excellence.
E-marketing was central to ETC's activity in 2004 as work began on the creation of a new European tourism portal website with
development funding from the European Union. The portal will be an exciting new tool which will motivate people from all over the world
to come and visit Europe. We have decided to mark its development by declaring e-marketing ETC `initiative of the year' for 2005.
For ETC to bolster Europe's share of an intensely competitive market, we must secure optimal positioning for Europe in that market.
We must define a brand identity for Destination Europe which is based on its unique strengths and will give it a competitive edge over
other destinations. ETC began work on creating a `Brand Europe' in 2004.
We need to be more visible if we are to play our full part in increasing European tourism's stature at political level. One way of achieving
this will be closer co-operation with other organisations who have a stake in tourism. We must identify projects on which we can work
together with such organisations. To this end, one of my first priorities as President has been to strengthen further our relations with the
World Tourism Organisation (WTO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Dr Arthur Oberascher became
President of ETC in April 2004.
Clearly, however, the European Union is the single most important forum for us to promote
He has been Chief Executive of the
the interests of our members, the millions of Europeans who work in tourism and, above all,
Austrian National Tourist Office since
our 400 million guests. If our voice is to be heard in the European institutions, we must
2001, having been Managing Director
work hard at cultivating and maintaining our contacts. This has been, and will continue
of the Styrian Tourist Board in Austria
to be, a key focus of my presidency.
from 1997 to 2001 and the Director of
Yet tourism and the European Travel Commission can achieve even more. In 2004, we
the Office for Economic and Tourism
reached out to countries that are not yet ETC members - and in particular to those in the
Development in Graz from 1996-7.
western Balkans that have been buffeted by crisis and conflict. All the continent's countries,
Dr Oberascher has a background in
even the smallest and least well-known, are pieces in the mosaic that constitutes Europe's
information technology and before
unique appeal. Our effort is in the best tradition of the ETC: it pursues the vision of
moving into tourism, he worked for
universality that our founders harboured at a time when the continent was divided,
several years in the Provincial
and it is an acknowledgement of tourism's grand vocation as a force for peace.
Government of Styria. He has also
been a lecturer at the Institute of
Business Administration and
Information Technology at Karl-
Franzens-University in Graz.