Key European tourism challenges highlighted at Slovenian Forum

  • Bled Strategic Forum is an international conference in Centrals and South-Eastern Europe.
  • COVID-19 pandemic has posed many questions for tourism.
  • The role of tourism at the EU level needs to be rethought.

The Bled Strategic Forum has evolved into a leading international conference in Central and South-Eastern Europe. The 16th edition took place 31 August – 2 September in a hybrid form. The tourism panel held on 2 September brought together top experts from Slovenia and renowned institutions, including EC, UNWTO, WTTC, OECD, ETC, HOTREC, ECM, to discuss the future of (European) tourism.

Prominent international and Slovenian experts, guests, panelists and representatives of Slovenian tourism were addressed by Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek, Director-General for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs at the European Commission Kerstin Jorna, Director of the Slovenian Tourist Board MSc. Maja Pak, Director of Regional Department for Europe at UNWTO Prof. Alessandra Priante and Director of the Portugal National Tourist Board and President of the European Tourism Commission (ETC) Luis Araújo.

COVID-19 pandemic has posed many questions for tourism, among the most pressing ones are survival and recovery, along with the transformation of the tourism industry into more resilient and sustainable one. Despite the difficult situation, optimistic forecasts of key international tourism institutions are on the rise. This year’s Tourism Panel has discussed the question What will the future bring to European tourism.

Panelists agreed that the pandemic has had a major impact on tourism industry and posed many challenges, as well as opportunities. It is time to address the shortcomings of tourism industry that have resulted from the expansion in the last 50 years and transform tourism into a much greener, digital and inclusive industry. Key conclusions identified at the panel were:

  1. Tourist’s confidence in travel needs to be rebuilt.
  2. Travel protocols and communication and coordination between the Member States concerning travel restrictions, COVID tests and quarantine rules need to be improved.
  3. Roadmap for sustainable transition is necessary.
  4. New performance indicators are needed.
  5. Digital transformation of the tourism industry needs to be supported and promoted.
  6. Investments and EU funding allocation towards sustainability and digitalization of the tourism industry is required.
  7. The role of tourism at the EU level needs to be rethought.
  8. DMO transition in their role to actively facilitate the industry transition process to green, inclusive and digital needs to be supported.
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