Etoa, the European Tourism Association, celebrated its 30th anniversary with members and partners at a networking event Paris yesterday.

Founded by a small group of tour operators in 1989, Etoa is now the biggest pan-European travel industry network, promoting Europe as the world’s number one destination.

Its 1,100 members deliver more than €12 billion of business annually within Europe and include tour and online operators, intermediaries and wholesalers; European tourist boards, hotels, attractions, technology companies and other tourism and business service providers.

Jean-Claude Balanos, leisure-sales vice-president at Accor Hotels, is the newest member of Etoa’s board of directors.

He said: “For me, ETOA’s work in destination is increasingly important as industry evolves to meet operational and commercial challenges. The association’s local knowledge and growing membership gives business a strong, credible voice in the big conversations about how tourism should develop in Europe.”

The networking event’s venue, La Bonne Franquette in Montmartre, was one of Etoa’s first members in France.

Luc Fracheboud, La Bonne Franquette’s owner, said: “My father saw the commercial opportunity in Etoa’s buyer network years ago and it continues to be a source of new business at B2B workshops and networking events like tonight.

“The hospitality industry will always depend on personal relationships, and Etoa’s network keeps us all connected.”

Tim Fairhurst, policy director at Etoa added: “Paris will always be a priority for us: it is the quintessential European destination and is the capital of the most visited country in the world.

“Despite recent coverage of colourful protests on TV, Paris remains one of the safest cities to visit. We’re delighted to celebrate our first 30 years here.”

More:Accor becomes first non-operator to join board of Etoa