ALTA joins European programme to promote sustainability among SMEs

ALTA is participating to the EU SUSTOUR project that fosters the uptake of sustainability tools and practices among travel agents and tour operators. As part of the project at least 175 European enterprises will obtain technical support. They will work towards Travelife certification and on the introduction of carbon, plastic and supply chain management tools. The programme is financially supported by the EU COSME programme, supporting the competitiveness of the European SME sector.

Riga, December 10, 2021. Sustainable tourism is no longer a niche product or market. All types of tourism can and must be made more sustainable. And all actors in the tourism value chain, including travel agents and tour operators, have a vital role to play in this transformation. As intermediates between tourists and tourism businesses tour operators and travel agents can influence the choices of consumers, practices of suppliers and the development in destinations.

The project will provide free technical support for travel agents and tour operators that want to improve their sustainability performance. A call for application for SME support will be launched later this year to offer interested travel agents and tour operators the opportunity to work towards Travelife certification, which is the leading training, management and certification scheme specifically designed for travel agents and tour operators and globally supported by the travel industry. The technical support will include training, one-on-one and group coaching to implement sustainability best practices, and Travelife certification. Companies can also apply for specific support packages related to carbon, plastic and / or supply chain management.

At the end of the project, it is expected that 175+ SMEs will benefit from the wider direct financial support programme rolled out under this project.

Said Inga Kavaca, Chairman of the board: “We encourage our members to use the opportunities provided by this project and contribute step-by-step to a more sustainable tourism. As an important player of the tourism value chain, we have a shared responsibility to manage tourism is a sustainable way for present and future generations.”

About SUSTOUR

SUSTOUR aims to foster the capacities and skills of 175+ tour operators (SME’s) to implement training, management systems, standards and solutions, which will improve their sustainable management and performance and open up new market opportunities. SMEs from all EU countries will be able to benefit from SUSTOUR.

SUSTOUR is a three-year project funded by the EU COSME programme. It is managed jointly by ECEAT, FUTOURIS, ECTAA, UHPA, SMAL, ANVR and APAVT. In addition more than 15 national associations are supporting the initiative. The strong support will mainstream sustainability within the travel sector.

For more information, visit the project website.

Covid-19: Tourism Ministers and the Commission need to step up efforts for travel and tourism

Ahead of the informal meeting of the Tourism Ministers next week, ECTAA calls on the European leaders to come up with a more substantial rescue package, a coordinated covid-19 exit strategy and ambitious recovery plan for travel and tourism.

Brussels. 24 April 2020. The travel bans and closing of borders imposed to help contain the covid-19 spread has brought travel and tourism to a halt. Tourism hotspots are deserted, hotels and restaurants hauntingly empty, aircrafts parked on runways. The activity of a whole industry is suspended, with devastating impact for businesses, most of which are SMEs and family-run enterprises.

Tourism Ministers are meeting next Monday for an informal Council meeting. It is time for them, according to the European travel agents and tour operators association, to take coordinated action, as 80% of tourist arrivals in Europe are from intra-EU source markets.

Travel and tourism is the most affected sector, being the first to be hit and one of the last one to get out of the Covid-19 crisis with the phased lifting of travel restrictions. The road ahead is long and hard and financial support measures are key for the survival of the industry. But so far, they are few and aid has not yet reached the enterprises. “We need more financial commitment from Members States to this important industry, which contributes more than 10% of EU GDP and provides 12 million jobs” said Pawel Niewiadomski, President of ECTAA.

ECTAA strongly believe that is it time for the Commission and the Member States to set up in addition an ambitious recovery plan for the industry. Tourism must be firmly anchored in the Marshall recovery plan announced by Commission President von der Leyen. Tourism Ministers should cooperate and coordinate with the European Commission to see how such recovery plan is best implemented at national level to allow the sector to lift off again and help the transition to a more sustainable, digital and innovative tourism”.

“But this should not prevent Tourism Ministers to raise the issue of vouchers to the Commission”, added Pawel Niewiadomski. “While travel companies would like to refund their customers, there is no more cash in the system. A pragmatic solution helping travel companies to overcome the liquidity crisis without trading off consumer protection is needed”. ECTAA and many other stakeholders call for a temporary derogation from European legislations to offer vouchers in lieu of refunds, that are flexible, refundable at end of term and are guaranteed against the insolvency of the travel company.

While the industry commits to guarantee the consumers that they will be able to travel as soon travel restrictions are lifted, ECTAA calls on European leaders to adopt a common approach as regards the gradual lifting of the lock-down and conditions to restart travel and tourism. Industry could develop common guidelines on such issues as respect for social-distancing and hygiene rules, but different rules imposed in different countries must be avoided.

Pawel Niewiadomski, concluded “We are in an unprecedented crisis. We need to think out of the box. We need actions and we need them now. Otherwise many tourism actors will disappear and European tourism will contract. Nobody stands to win anything from this.”

The European travel agents and tour operators call upon the new Commission to work towards a competitive, transparent and sustainable travel market

The European Parliament approved yesterday the new von der Leyen Commission that will lead the European Commission until 2024. All the Commissioners are now ready to take office. ECTAA, the European organisation representing the travel agents and tour operators, is committed to help them make the travel market more competitive, more transparent and more sustainable.

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