New partnership to focus on sustainable tourism in Europe

Four leading tourism organisations and academic institutions – CELTH (the Center of Expertise Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality), ETC (the European Travel Commission), ETOA (European Tourism Association) and NECSTouR (the Network of European Regions for Sustainable and Competitive Tourism) have agreed to work together on sustainable tourism and best practice sharing to support policy development in destinations across Europe.

Representing academic experts, national tourism organisations, industry, local government and other stakeholders, the partnership models the creative collaboration needed between public and private sectors to develop better policy and tourism products. The goals of the partnership are to create actionable policy, to use smart data, analysis and actionable insights to make destinations attractive and viable places to live, work and visit in the long-term.

The visitor economy generates 12% of employment in Europe. Fuelled by technological advances and a growing global population who can afford to travel, this is a dynamic, fast-moving sector, which complements and competes with domestic demand. In several destinations, the sector’s dynamic nature has led to anti-tourism sentiment and short-term political fixes that fail to reconcile the fundamental interests of both community and industry.

The four organisations believe co-ordinated and imaginative management is required to optimise capacity and develop new products, as is honest debate about the necessary compromises needed.


CELTH, the Center of Expertise Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality is a co-operation of experts and expertise from universities across the Netherlands. These include Breda University of Applied Sciences, NHL Stenden University and its European Tourism Futures Institute, HZ University of Applied Sciences and its Knowledge Center on Coastal Tourism as well as the Universities of Groningen, Wageningen and Tilburg.

Menno Stokman, Director, CELTH said “The urgent issues of the sector require a more scientific approach, data and expertise. We need networks of partners working on sustainable destination management and a sustainable sector. A sector that has social, ecological and economic goals. The new partnership joins relevant stakeholders to develop vision and strategy, to enable destinations and the industry to take responsibility for choices that lead to sustainable development and resilient destinations.”


The European Travel Commission (ETC) is the non-profit organisation responsible for the promotion of Europe as a tourist destination in third markets. Its 33-member National Tourism Organisations work together to build the value of tourism for all the diverse countries of Europe through co-operation in sharing best practice, market intelligence and promotion. Europe is the world’s number one tourist destination with 712 million international arrivals in 2018 and more than 50% of the market share of worldwide tourism.

Eduardo Santander, Executive Director, ETC said: “European destinations need to develop long-term sustainable management solutions to enable tourism to flourish, rather than just merely grow. This requires constant monitoring and an adequate analysis of the tourism impact on the economy, the environment and local communities in order to obtain actionable insights from all industry actors. ETC firmly believes that cooperation between public and private stakeholders at a European, national, and regional level is essential towards this end. Our partnership will bring together the necessary networks and their expertise to find viable solutions in the long-term interests of destinations, the tourism sector and the visitor economy.”


ETOA is the trade association for tour operators and suppliers with business in European destinations. Over 1100 members contribute more than €12bn of business within Europe and include tour and online operators, intermediaries and wholesalers; European tourist boards, hotels, attractions and other tourism suppliers.

ETOA offers an unparalleled networking/contracting platform for tourism professionals organising B2B events. The organisation provides advocacy support on a European level, high profile industry campaigns and B2B marketing representation opportunities; all in order to promote Europe as a number one tourism destination.

Tim Fairhurst, Secretary General, ETOA – European tourism association said: “Tourism is critically important for the European economy. It is also widely misunderstood. Evidence of its benefit must be communicated, and its economic implications explained. Cities change continually, and visitor spend is an influential factor. ETOA’s members sell European tourism in a global marketplace: their clients want to feel welcome, not just tolerated, and they have options. Most of tourism’s negative impacts at a local level are highly concentrated: over the course of a day, seasonally and geographically. Both destinations and industry can do better. With this new partnership I am confident we will.


NECSTouR, the Network of European Regions for Sustainable and Competitive Tourism, was born in 2007 with three regions who were willing to share experiences and foster alliances for a sustainable and competitive tourism in Europe. Today, it is a network of 71 members, representing 20 European Countries. NECSTouR gathers 36 Regional Authorities competent in Tourism and 35 associated members (Universities, Research Institutes, Representatives of the Tourism Enterprises and of the Sustainable Tourism Associations), committed to: Position NECSTouR model of Sustainable & Competitive Tourism, raise the profile of Tourism in the EU agenda, reinforce the role of Regions in the EU Tourism Policy and mainstream of EU Funds for Tourism.

Patrick Torrent, President, NECSTouR said: “Competitiveness and sustainability are the foundations of NECSTouR’s work – they are also part of our name. European destinations will not succeed without a robust strategy for tourism’s sustainability at regional and local levels. NECSTouR’s ‘Barcelona Declaration’ and its ‘5 S’ principles for good policy – Smart, Socio-cultural, Skills, Safety and Statistics – set out a vision for tourism’s development. This partnership will help us all translate it into action.”