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12 October European Tourism Convention presided by Thierry Breton – European Commissioner for Internal Market

November 9, 2020

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Benedetta Cassineli

This year’s convention focused on the main challenges facing the sector over the next 10-20 years and on the investment priorities necessary for its sustainable recovery and resilience.

I took learning from the three main workshops:

Safe and seamless tourism experiences – we need to ensure smart management of tourism and tourism related crowds. For tourism development in destinations, the focus should be on quality rather than quantity. This is something about which Italy, my own country, should take note, especially in view of the overcrowding at popular spots in destinations such as Venice, Florence and Rome. The pandemic offers the opportunity to set new boundaries for the flow of tourism.

Greener holidays – tourism SMEs, destination management and marketing organisations need to be empowered with innovation capabilities, financial instruments and legal frameworks. We are aware that SMEs make up more than 90% of tourism business and they need to receive the right amount of support in order to bring about the needed change. At Considerate Group we aim to be part of that support – fluttr, our innovative mobile app, helps SME hospitality businesses understand their energy consumption, enabling them to see areas where planet and cost savings can be made.

Tourism powered by data – there is a need to make funding available and increase awareness of funding and training opportunities for sector-wide digitalisation. I couldn’t agree more; Consider Group’s service offering differentiates us from most other sustainability consultancies by encompassing not only CSR Strategies, policy creation and reporting but also including technological solutions which underscore all our work with solid data. This makes us better able to monitor change and, track progress while also demonstrating impact and improvement.

The workshop that Considerate Group took part in then highlighted the growing pressure, shared across the sector, to increase and accelerate change. From all those involved, I really sensed a common urgency to find solutions with a view to working towards short term timetables of 2-3 years rather than the 10-20 focus of the event.

Many topics were raised and discussed, please see here for an overview. However, there were three topics which received particular engagement from all participants – there was an overall desire for:

A common consumer certification – all agreed there is a gap to fill in order to achieve necessary transparency for consumers to make informed decisions when selecting holidays or holiday accommodation. There was consensus that a common certification would not only benefit consumers but would also prompt service providers to move faster in the implementation of sustainability practices. This idea has also been discussed in the MIPIM UK sustainability white paper, written by PKF with a contribution by Considerate Group, see page 10. It was agreed that this is a pretty huge project on which to embark – the question is whether the EU would be the best platform from which to develop such certification and give its stamp of approval?

Better data – All recognised that data is the essential tool to meet the commitments of the European green deal. But how to achieve cross-country and cross-subsector data collection and uniformity remains unclear. Data disclosures, everybody agreed, will be most likely addressed by a combination of new policies, regulations, voluntary disclosures and new legal frameworks. It was recognised that plenty of developments are already beginning at country level.

Urgent upskilling and reskilling – Training was also discussed, I found this of particular interest as I agree there is an urgent need to upskill and reskill management level about sustainability-related mitigation and adaptation measures. Leaders and middle management need re-training in order to lead their organisation to meet green deal targets. The younger generation is certainly more prepared on the topic of sustainability – 53% of millennials would forgo a brand due to it having poor environmental standards and Generation Z are even more engaged! Sadly their enthusiasm is often not matched by senior management.

The question, for all the topics discussed, is whether we will be able to move as fast as we would like, and whether the solutions finally agreed on will be radical enough for a real transformation.

Please do contact me with your views/responses.