Organisers of a travel event in London focused on Balkan tourism have urged the UK trade to support countries bordering Ukraine and “show solidarity during the current crisis”.
The call from the founders of New Deal Europe comes as hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing Ukraine into neighbouring countries to escape the Russian invasion.
The New Deal Europe Marketplace and Forum will take place in east London on April 4, aimed at generating tourism business to the Greater Balkan region.
Co-founder Robert Dee said: “We have exhibitors coming from Romania and Moldova, countries which border Ukraine and are currently receiving refugees.
“Like us, their tourism industry has suffered from two years of Covid, but it has now received an additional blow.
“Therefore, it’s really important that the UK travel trade, representing one of the most resilient customer bases in the world, shows solidarity at this time, and turns up en masse at the New Deal Europe live event to meet with these delegates.
“This will send out a clear message of support and will be widely reported in the region.
“We all feel powerless in this situation, but this is one action we can take which we know will make a difference.”
Dee said operators who have to cancel tours as a result of Russia’s invasion have an opportunity to offer alternatives in the Balkans region.
“It ticks the boxes, as it is short-haul from the UK and relatively unknown, and has lots of history and a sustainable offering,” he said.
Tine Murn, his fellow co-founder, added: “Registrations for our event are coming in every day. We have just returned from a visit to seven countries of the region and interest is very high.
“It’s great to see that people are engaging with destinations beyond the honeypots of Croatia, Greece and Slovenia, and have full confidence in the long-term future of the region as a sustainable tourism destination in the heart of Europe.”
As well as the live event at Plexal in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, there will be a virtual version on April 11.
For details, visit the New Deal Europe website at newdealeurope.com.