Association of European City Tourism, Convention Offices and Marketing Organizations, European Cities Marketing (ECM), re-elected M.Sc. Petra Stušek, managing director of Ljubljana Tourism as its president at the annual general assembly, which took place online this year. Since 2019, for the first time in several decades of the organization’s existence, a leading European association in the field of urban tourism management, promotion and marketing activities of urban tourism, has been led by a woman who with the help of her team successfully coped with all the challenges posed to tourism by the pandemic, and in recent years has further strengthened the image of Ljubljana as a modern, successful and sustainable tourist destination.
The ECM connects 113 members in 37 countries and increases the competitiveness and performance of its members, who are also from non-European countries. ECM provides a platform for the participation of professionals in leisure, business and urban tourism in order to set new trends in the field of urban tourism, knowledge exchange, examples of best practices and networking.
The value of a strong community and connections has been demonstrated over the past year, marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is no longer only a global health emergency, but a multi-dimensional crisis of economic, social and even geopolitical dimensions. Tourism is one of the most resilient industries, which quickly restores balance, if or when it is destroyed. Nevertheless, it is clear that the recovery will be slower this time. Throughout 2020, the ECM continued to empower conversation with all the members on what a new tomorrow looks like, combining their innovative power and creative minds, charging it with new perspectives from the outside and exploring what might come. They launched “A New Tomorrow”, a new series of communication in collaboration with Group NAO to share ideas and challenges, find inspiration in new practices and different approaches. Together they envisioned a new future of destinations rebuilt, conventions reimagined to meet new traveler preferences and behavior.
As the need for strategic destination management is greater than ever, they designed the “Tomorrow Today” strategy for 2019-2022 and defined the role of a modern DMMO (destination management and marketing organization). Across the ECM community, they see a bright new paradigm where the modern DMMO can play a paramount role as facilitator and (co-)innovator in the multidimensional cityscape of art and culture, education, science and research, creative industries, hospitality and last but not least, local communities.
Besides the existing knowledge groups also new were formed, focusing on the new key performance indicators. In 2020, ECM conducted seven #aNewTomorrow webinars, 22 presentations of best practices and case studies, created a document for DMMO with 99 checkboxes to facilitate actions in different stages of recovery (DMMO Covid-19 Continuity Checklist), 14 articles in the Long Thinker catalog were published and 5 best practices newsletters sent.
From a financial point of view, there is clear evidence that DMOs have been strongly hit and it is needless to say that such negative budget impacts have not been seen before in the DMO community – not even during the global financial crisis from 2009-2011. The majority of DMOs have had their 2020 budgets reduced and almost a third of these have seen severe reductions of more than 50%. Nonetheless, the tourism sector is in a unique position to contribute to the wider recovery plans and actions, which is why the ECM has opened a new conversation with the European Commission and the members of the European Union to run harmonized and coordinated responses to achieve recovery as quickly as possible. Travel and Tourism is uniquely equipped to be part of sustainable global recovery efforts going beyond tourism, better for the planet and the people.