DMOs and their role in tourism during war times
Ivan says: “This is a call for public expressions of solidarity. Of course, traditional tourism is almost impossible. With lives at risk, tourism and destination marketing people are turning their talents toward resistance, humanitarian aid, safe passage for refugees, and support in the information war.
Now is an important time for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and tourism leaders everywhere to voice their solidarity, Ivan says.
Just a couple of weeks before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when the international media was already openly talking about the serious risks of an all-out war, most people did not believe in the likelihood of such a scenario.
Despite the divisions and the ongoing, smoldering conflict in eastern Ukraine, no one thought that the Putin regime was crazy enough to go to open war in the center of Europe.
Tourism in Ukraine Days before the war started
Tourism in Ukraine 6 months into the war
He said: “Together with the World Tourism Network (WTN), we decided to hold a Zoom meeting, which was attended by various destinations in Ukraine, tour operators, and hoteliers. At the meeting, we reassured our international partners that everything was calm and under control in Ukraine.
The reality caught up with us:
None of us lived or worked in the real war. There are no textbooks and guidelines on what to do with tourism companies during the war because tourism is the antithesis of war by default. Everyone knows that there is no tourism where it is unsafe. However, we see the important role now played by DMOs and business networking of tourism organizations.
The DMO-4C model: communication, coordination, cooperation, and collaboration can be quickly repurposed to perform tasks relevant to each destination, as:
Coordination of local businesses to provide food, provisions, medicines, equipment, and all necessary territorial defense units formed by ordinary citizens. Fundraising, purchase, and preparation of products, purchase of medicines, and equipment, coordination of volunteers, provision of both internal and external logistics for the delivery of humanitarian goods.
Tour Operating for Refugees
Assistance and organization of evacuation of civilians to quieter regions or other countries. Communication with foreign partners to organize transport and help provide accommodation for refugees in neighboring countries. Consultations on the current state of border crossing points.
Marketing communication channels are becoming channels for informing the whole world about what is happening to attract maximum attention, as well as to respond in the form of informational, economic, and social pressure on the aggressor.
World Central Kitchen
Ivan was essential in setting up and organizing World Central Kitchen in his region, Odessa.
“Many in the Odessa Travel and Tourism Industry are now providing food for those needed. Food is transported to crisis regions.
“90% of workers in our warehouse are refugees from Mariupol, Kherson, Mykolaiv”, Ivan says.
“We in Odessa make 10000 food kits daily. The conveyor starts at 8 AM and stops at 8 PM. Hot meals and food kits in bags. Meals daily kits weekly.”
Traditional Tourism is not dead
The Carpathian Mountains are still a popular vacation destination for Ukrainians. Located in the far west of Ukraine, the beautiful mountain chain offers visitors the quiet of nature and stunning views. People are still determined to take a break, even as Russia’s invasion tried to destroy Ukraine’s tourism industry.
Tourism has changed in Ukraine but is active like never before, with many fearless members looking out for fellow citizens.