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European Travel Commission: Seventy years of promoting Destination Europe

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On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the European Travel Commission (ETC) has published a book, which offers a detailed historical account of the ETC’s first seven decades of work. The book, entitled “The History of the European Travel Commission (1948-2018)”, takes its readers on a journey through the history of collaboration in promoting Europe as a single destination overseas and in making travel to and within Europe more accessible and appealing.

“The ETC has outlined seven decades of the history of tourism in Europe and one of the world’s oldest intergovernmental tourism organizations”, stated ETC President Mr. Peter De Wilde. “It’s an exciting journey that reflects how our beloved Europe has faced and overcome challenges. As long as we’re able to come together as Europeans and define our common dreams, our leadership in the tourism field will open doors to a better world where people will view traveling as an experience of sharing values and respecting identities that can transform lives”, added Mr. De Wilde.

Composed of six broadly chronological chapters, the book traces the development of the European tourism sector from the foundation of the European Travel Commission in 1948 up to the present day. It describes the years of post-war reconstruction in Europe and the role of the Marshall Plan in the development of tourism in Europe. The book proceeds to highlight the first joint European marketing campaigns overseas and how ETC’s publicity in America became the flagship activity for the organization. Furthermore, the work focuses on new political challenges of mass tourism which emerged in full force in the 1960s. The 1970s & 1980s brought both significant developments that rocked the travel industry, such as new aircrafts and computer-based technologies, and enormous challenges (economic downturns, a nuclear disaster and terrorist attacks), which required ETC response. The post-Cold War years significantly expanded ETC membership to Central and Eastern Europe and increased its collaboration with the European institutions. The launch of in 1996 marked the start of digital promotion for Destination Europe. The final chapter looks at what ETC has accomplished after its change of leadership in 2012 to the present day, expanding its activities and asserting its position as the voice of European tourism in the twenty-first century.

“The History of the European Travel Commission (1948-2018)” was researched and written by three professional historians in the tourism sector – Dr Igor Tchoukarine (University of Minnesota), Dr Sune Bechmann Pedersen (Lund University), and Dr Frank Schipper (Foundation for the History of Technology, Eindhoven).

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