Amid the worldwide crisis for the travel sector caused by the coronavirus pandemic, plans have been announced for a new industry leaders’ global summit.

A World For Travel Evora Forum aims to bring tourism industry leaders, national and regional politicians, regulators and key non-governmental stakeholders together in Portugal for the two-day event in November.

Plans for the forum were being worked on before the COVID-19 crisis, but organisers say the pandemic’s impact on travel makes it even more vital for decision makers to debate the future.

The Evora Forum hopes to attract 500 delegates to Evora in Portugal where they will discuss the key issues facing tourism and propose how the sector must change to ensure it has a sustainable future.

Frederic Vanhoutte, one of the forum’s organisers and president and director general of Eventiz media Group, said the idea is for the forum to be like Davos, the annual World Economic Forum congress held in the Swiss Alps.

“COVID-19 makes it even more important that we run this event,” he said. “The travel industry will change because what people expect today is not the same as what people will expect tomorrow.

“Consumers will expect a guarantee of sanitary, security and safety measures in where they stay, what they eat and who transports them. They will not want to find themselves stuck somewhere.

“People will enjoy the journey to reach the destination and will stay for longer. I think we will no longer accept going to New York for the weekend.

“Is this the end of mass market cheap tourism, with lots of people together in the same place, the quality pretty low and margins pretty low? That was already a trend before this crisis.

“The new trends will be about travelling less but longer, respecting the destination and the local population, eating the local food, getting to know the locals and generating value for people locally.”

Vanhoutte said the Portuguese city of Evora was chosen to host the event because it epitomises how the sector can address issues of overtourism and the environmental impact tourism is responsible for.

“We did not want to take this to a major capital city. We wanted to be in the countryside, in a region with a lot of potential. People will never stop travelling, but when the travel house burns the planet burns and we can’t look the other way.”

In an open letter to the tourism sector, Christian Delom, A World For Travel secretary general, said: “Covid-19 is an unprecedented worldwide crisis.

“No area of human activity will be safe from scrutiny and the consequences will be closely interlinked with the changes and aspirations which were already in motion.

“How will we find a way out of this crisis? The travel and tourism sector will be asking how it can survive and develop, a question that has become more complex in this case than in previous crises.

“It would be naive to hope for a simple end to the crisis, without taking a long hard look at how our sector functions.”

The A World For Travel Evora Forum is being supported by the European Travel Commission, The Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council and Visit Portugal.

It is also being supported by Jacobs Media Group brands Travel Weekly, The Caterer and Travolution.

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