Inspiring traveller’s stories and destination plans – anniversary trade show Balttour 2024 successfully over!

On Sunday, 4 February, Ķīpsala Expo Centre concluded the International Tourism Industry Trade Fair and Show Balttour 2024.

30th anniversary Balttour offered visitors a glimpse at current travel routes and leisure opportunities in Latvia and its regions, great travel deals and information about popular international travel destinations and opportunities. Visitors also tasted regional eats and engaged in various fun activities.

Balttour 2024 brought together 342 companies and business representatives from 34 countries – Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Albania, Georgia, Italy, Montenegro, Cyprus, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, Poland and other countries.

The three-day event was visited by 21,725 travel enthusiasts, of which 4,300 visitors were travel professionals.

To promote more meaningful discussion on current trends in travel industry research, Ķīpsala Expo Centre hosted the conference ‘Travel research in Latvia: current and future trends’. Balttour 2024 also included reveal of new airBaltic destinations, presentations of travelling opportunities in Latvia and matchmaking event between Latvian companies and key international tourism market representatives.

Traveler’s Stories on the main stage of Balttour was a new section of the trade show, which attracted large crowds of visitors. Speakers included local celebrities and well-known storytellers like Kristīne Virsnīte, Zane Eniņa, Juris Smaļinskis, Gundega Skudriņa, Aigars Lauzis, Ilona Balode and many more.

The next year’s International Tourism Industry Trade Fair and Show Balttour will take place at the Ķīpsala International Expo Centre on 7-9 February 2025.

See you at Balttour 2025.

Balttour is organised by the Association of Latvian Travel Agents and Operators (ALTA) with support of BT 1 International Expo Company.

The Association of Incoming Tour Operators of Ukraine officially part of the European travel agents’ and tour operators’ associations

The Association of Incoming Tour Operators of Ukraine officially part of the European travel agents’ and tour operators’ associations
ECTAA and AITO decide to work together to prepare the industry for Ukraine’s accession to the EU and help rebuild tourism after the war.
Brussels, 13 June 2023. ECTAA was very pleased and honoured to welcome Marina Antonyuk and Olena Kazmina, President and Vice-President of AITO respectively as well as Natalya Vasylenko, Head of Tourism Development Department of the State Agency for Tourism Development of Ukraine, to the ECTAA semi-annual meeting, which took place on 8-9 June in Riga.
Destinations at the border of Russia are safe to travel to, as the meeting in Riga showed. The current war in Ukraine is indeed concentrated on the Eastern part of the Ukraine. But the war has a huge impact on travel and tourism in Ukraine and many touristic and cultural sites are destroyed.
ECTAA and AITO exchanged on ways European travel organisations could help rebuild travel and tourism in Ukraine after the war. As a first step, AITO was invited to integrate the European association as Full Member. This will allow the organisations to exchange knowledge, share experiences and build connections. As a second step, ECTAA and AITO will explore specific joint projects that aim to support the Ukrainian tourism industry.
The move is also part of a wider push for Ukraine’s integration into the EU, as the country moves towards becoming a full Member State, which requires adjustment to the European laws and regulations and offers opportunities for joint projects and initiatives. Said Frank Oostdam, President of ECTAA: “The tourism sector can serve as the backbone of Ukraine’s recovery when the war is over. We are confident that this partnership will be valuable to build back a strong and resilient travel and tourism industry in Ukraine.” Referring to ECTAA’s statement issued in March 2022 condemning Russia’s aggression of Ukraine, he added: “We stand united with our Ukrainian colleagues in these hard times.”

ECTAA and LIAA announce a campaign on promotion of Latvia as an exceptional travel destination

Riga, May 24 The European Travel Agents' and Tour Operators' Association (ECTAA) and the Tourism Department of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) are delighted to announce a collaborative campaign aimed at promoting Latvia as an exceptional travel destination to ECTAA members and beyond.

With its captivating blend of attractiveness, cultural and historical heritage, convenient traffic connections, compactness, and breathtaking natural landscapes, Latvia offers every traveler a unique and unforgettable experience. With this joint campaign, ECTAA and the LIAA Tourism Department aim to showcase the country's rich offerings to travel professionals, enticing them to consider Latvia as a preferred destination for their clients.

As a significant milestone in this partnership, ECTAA will hold its upcoming general meeting in Riga from June 7 to 9, 2023. This prestigious gathering will bring together travel industry leaders, decision-makers, and experts from across Europe, providing an ideal platform to promote Latvia and discuss strategies for mutual growth.

Following the general meeting, a post-event FAM trip will be organized from June 9 to 11, 2023, allowing participants to explore the wonders of Latvia first-hand. This immersive journey will showcase Latvia's picturesque landscapes, historical landmarks, authentic cultural experiences, and warm hospitality, leaving a lasting impression on all attendees.

Moreover, as part of this exciting collaboration, two informative webinars are scheduled for the year's second half, tailored explicitly for German, Austria, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. These webinars will highlight Latvia's hidden gems and unique selling points, providing valuable insights to travel agents and tour operators and enabling them to effectively promote the destination to their clients.

ECTAA and the Tourism Department of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia share a common goal of promoting sustainable and responsible tourism while encouraging the exploration of new horizons. This collaboration marks the beginning of a long-term partnership to strengthen Latvia's position as a must-visit destination among European travelers.

The joy of reunions and planned trips – Balttour 2023 has successfully concluded

On 5 February, the long-awaited 28th International Travel Trade Fair, Balttour 2023, concluded at Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre, which, after a three-year break, attracted great interest from travellers! Visitors were enthusiastic about Latvia’s tourist attractions, routes and active leisure opportunities, and were able to buy bargain trips abroad, as well as enjoy gastronomic delights and exciting activities. The joy of socialising was in the air!

Balttour 2023 brought together 293 companies and their representatives from 33 countries – Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Armenia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Georgia, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Cyprus, Republic of Korea, Costa Rica, Morocco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Finland, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine Hungary, Uzbekistan, Germany and Sweden.

Over the three days, the fair demonstrated solid consumer interest for what the industry has to offer – despite being held in a single hall, it attracted 22,865 visitors, including 4,000 professionals.

“We are very pleased with the success of Balttour 2023 and the return of such an important event for the Latvian tourism industry. Balttour has shown that the exhibition format is in demand for both tourism service providers and tourists. We have achieved our goals with flying colours – we have successfully implemented targeted activities for industry professionals, promoted business networking, and presented information about tourism industry news and offers. We also addressed the importance of safe and responsible travel. The positive feedback encourages us to continue to develop the fair with additional activities and valuable business content. We clearly see opportunities for development, working with those involved in the tourism sector, both private and public. Let’s make Latvia the centre of the Baltic tourism industry!” says Ēriks Lingebērziņš, president of the Association of Latvian Travel Agents and Operators (ALTA).

Travel sale
This year, just like in other years, Balttour hosted an active travel sale. Travel agencies and operators – TEZ TOUR, Novatours, Estravel Latvia, 1Travel, AZA tours, Interlux, Nikos Travel, Alsvets, Atlantic Travel, Join UP!, Ozolciems Tūre, Skyline Travel and others welcomed travellers with good offers.

This year, the TEZ TOUR stand was full of Italian flair as the summer programme was officially launched with new destinations in the country: the world’s elite holiday destination on the beautiful island of Sardinia – Olbia and its nearby resorts, as well as the attractive Rimini resort region on the Adriatic coast for all categories of tourists.

“The Balttour fair, after a long break, was very important for us to work and communicate with our customers and partners in person. To show that we are stable and focused, to show that our top priority is still to offer quality tourism products, which we demonstrated at the fair with new destinations. It was a great pleasure to meet colleagues again at the fair – established tourism companies that continue to provide quality services. We expected the fair and our stand to be well attended, and our expectations were met with great success! Travellers were very much looking forward to this travel fair, and this is evidenced by their great interest in various travel destinations,” says Konstantīns Paļgovs, head of the tour operator TEZ TOUR Latvija, and continues: "Many thanks to the organisers – ALTA and BT 1 – for a professionally organised event. It has been a difficult time for everyone, but the results of this year’s fair are very encouraging. TEZ TOUR team will be delighted to meet our colleagues and tourists at the Balttour fair next year!"

Liāna Pudule-Indāne, sales manager of Novatours Latvija, also shares her successful experience: "Let’s not deny that we were a bit nervous about what it would be like to participate again after a three-year break, because not only has the tourism industry changed, but consumer behaviour has changed too. However, within the first few minutes, we were really happy to have the opportunity to meet both clients and colleagues again at the Balttour fair. The interest was really high and we are grateful to everyone who came to our stand, bought a tour or was just interested in the latest tourism news."

Sardinia is the official travel destination of Balttour 2023
The Sardinian atmosphere was present throughout the fair, as Sardinia was this year’s official Balttour partner and tourist destination. Upon entering the hall, you couldn’t help but notice the Mediterranean beauty stand, where guests were greeted by actual Sardinians and our very own welcoming, passionate and hot-blooded Roberto Meloni. Travellers could find out what Sardinia has to offer and buy a trip to the land of the long-lived at the other stands.

Latvia shows off its latest products and wide range of offers
All regions showed off Latvia’s tourism opportunities. Each of them also provided information on the latest developments. The people of Kurzeme spoke with joy and pride about the newly opened science centre “VIZIUM” in Ventspils, the newly opened retro bicycle museum “Ciskdrill” in Kuldīga, the “Upside Down House” in Smārde and the new feature of the Liepāja Karosta – the newly renovated redan. The Zemgalians presented information about the new glamping “Mazie Mežgaļi”, about the restaurant “Mežs Kungs”, which will open soon, as well as about the Zvirgzde orienteering polygon, which has just been created in Zvirgzde dune. Latgalians, who were represented in particularly large numbers, encouraged a visit to the Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre’s 10th anniversary celebration programme, as well as the Aglona Bread Museum, and to enjoy the beautiful scenery, lakes, nature and marshland trails and watchtowers. The municipalities of the Vidzeme coast, Limbaži, Saulkrasti, Ādaži, highlighted their joint work – a map of the Vidzeme coast with cultural and historical sites, natural attractions, handicraft masters, farms, accommodation, national and local routes. The residents of Gulbene invited guests to an excursion to the railway depot, to the educational and interactive centre "Railway and the Steam", as well as to visit the most beautiful manor houses and castles in the region.

“Similarly as in the Netherlands, at Balttour we were also pleased to see that we got more than we expected – the interest was really high, people were longing for the format of the fair and face-to-face communication. For years, it has been argued that the exhibition format is no longer valid, as everything can be found and bought online. But we were able to prove otherwise! There were plenty of ambitious and curious visitors. Visitors who have been to Gulbene and visited a single attraction will find that Gulbene and its surroundings offer so much that you can spend not just one day, but even a whole week there. Only in person can you get such complete, high-quality information, and visitors really appreciate it. Balttour also serves as a meeting place for professionals!” says Raitis Sijāts, chairman of the Vidzeme Tourism Association.

The industry professional also emphasised that visitors are more focused and come to the fair with specific needs: "Gone are the days when visitors pick up maps and brochures without looking. They choose what interests them most. And the claim that only those who don’t know how to use the internet visit the exhibition is also untrue!"

Inbound and outbound tourism business events
Every year, the first day of the fair – both the offer of exhibitors and the programme of events – is dedicated to professionals in the field. This year, two important events of value to industry professionals took place. The first seminar was an inbound tourism matchmaking event, which brought together foreign outbound tourism operators from Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Denmark to learn about Latvia’s tourism offers.

“I appreciate the opportunity for Latvian regions to present their tourism offer at a business event. The representatives of the regions presented themselves not only to foreigners, but also to their colleagues, and that is also important. So many benefits in such a short time!” says R. Sijāts.

The second event was dedicated to Latvian outbound tourism, where you could meet tourism industry representatives from airBaltic’s newest destinations – Gran Canaria, Marrakech, Bilbao, Porto, Montenegro, Serbia, Armenia, Romania and also Tampere.

Expert discussion on safe travel
On 3 February, the ALTA stand also hosted an opinion ring discussion "Responsible Tourism Business – How to Travel Safely" organised by Turība University. Experts discussed how the pandemic has changed tourist behaviour and demand, and what travel-related risks are currently being observed. The discussion was attended by Dean of the Faculty of International Tourism of Turība University and ALTA President Ēriks Lingebērziņš, ALTA Board Member Anta Jokste, Head of the Consular Assistance Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sandra Salmiņa-Šuke and Head of the Latvian Congress Bureau Irēna Riekstiņa.

Tourism Person of the Year 2020–2022
On the first day of the fair, 3 February, immediately after the opening ceremony of Balttour 2023, the most important award for the Latvian tourism industry took place – Tourism Person of the Year 2020–2022. This year, the jury awarded three prizes, expressing gratitude to those representatives of the tourism industry who have made a significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian tourism business, as well as represented the interests of the industry in crisis situations: COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s war in Ukraine. The awards were received by Jānis Jenzis, president of the Latvian Restaurant Association, Astrīda Trupovniece, executive Director of ALTA and Vadims Muhins, member of the Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association and owner of hotel operator Mogotel. Congratulations to the winners!

See you at Balttour 2024!
The next 29th International Travel Trade Fair Balttour 2024 will take place from 2 to 4 February at Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre.

The Balttour fair is organised by the Association of Latvian Travel Agents and Operators (ALTA), and managed by the BT 1 international exhibition company.

More about the fair: Follow our news on social media: and



The future of package travel at stake

Tour operators concerned about the lack of ambition of the European Commission to review consumer protection throughout the whole travel value chain.

29 November 2022. At the ECTAA meeting in Thessaloniki last week, national associations, tour operators and travel agents expressed grave concerns about the direction of the legislative measures considered by the European Commission. Indeed, the European Commission is currently undertaking consultations in view of revising the Package Travel Directive and improving passenger rights. However, the options under review show little alignment between the measures imposed on tour operators and those on airlines.

Commissioner Reynders, whose portfolio includes consumer protection, has clearly expressed the intention to limit prepayments to tour operators in the review of the Package Travel Directive. However, there is no apparent interest in limiting prepayments to airlines in the review of passenger rights, which is under the responsibility of Commissioner Valean. This is demonstrating an obvious lack of understanding on how the travel industry works. Tour operators are not holding the costumer money; they have to pay their suppliers, in particular airlines, who in most circumstances require advance payment in full.

Equally, whereas the Commission is considering to further regulate the protection of package organisers’ insolvency, there are no concrete options under review to effectively regulate airline insolvency protection, despite the recommendation of the European Court of Auditors of June 2021 to extend the insolvency protection offered by the Package Travel Directive, including repatriation costs, to airlines under Regulation 261/2004.

Said Frank Oostdam, President of ECTAA: “Limiting pre-payments and imposing insolvency protection on only one part of the value chain to the detriment of tour operators, which are mostly SMEs, will squeeze them out of the market. It will deprive consumers of an essential travel product, as package travel offers a high level of protection.” He added “we call on Commissioners Reynders and Valean to align the measures through the whole travel value chain, if their goal is to really improve the protection of consumers.”

Tour operators wants European legislation to match with reality

The travel agency and tour operating representatives met in Brussels to draw lessons from the COVID pandemic and
the past crises to help overcoming current uncertain times and presented suggestions to improve the European
legislating governing this sector.
Brussels. 26 October 2022. The European travel industry met for an event in Brussels at
the invitation of ECTAA, the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators Association and DRV, Deutscher Reiseverband.
In a period where uncertainty prevails, the travel sector has to be prepared for major challenges. Taking stock of the
problems faced and the solutions that were elaborated during the COVID-pandemic is certainly essential today.
István Ujhelyi, Member of European Parliament and Vice Chair of the transport and Tourism Committee, and Dr Ute
Dallmayer, CEO of Lufthansa City Center Niederrhein presented with Frank Oostdam, President of ECTAA and Dirk Inger,
Managing Director of DRV, their viewpoints on various issues such as the absence of refunds, the sudden changes of
travel advices as well as the practical incoherence of some legal obligations. They also exchanged with the audience on
the best ways to improve the existing Package Travel Directive, which is of utmost importance for travel companies and
consumers alike.
Said Frank Oostdam, President of ECTAA “broader, more accessible insolvency protection applied on services providers,
improved B2B refunds, flexible scope and crisis specific measures are all issues which deserved to be addressed quickly.
However, a revision of the PTD alone would be meaningless and harmful toward SMEs without a reform of passenger
regulations in parallel.” He further underlined “When the Commission raises the issue of prepayment, it has to look at
all the aspects of the question: for example, if the customers do not make any prepayment in full, suppliers can’t be
paid in full by the tour operators before the service is provided”.
Said Dirk Inger, Managing Director of DRV “above all, it is also about fair competition. Package holidays are not only in
competition with each other. Customers also compare them with individual services, which are subject to significantly
lower consumer protection requirements” he added “consumer protection requirements should not be further
increased in the already very consumer-friendly package travel market." Otherwise, he said, there is a great danger that
less consumer protection will emerge in the end. And that is precisely when price-sensitive customers increasingly turn
to the less protected individual services. "This must not be the result of a revision”.

ECTAA announces Frank Oostdam as new President

ECTAA announces Frank Oostdam as new President

Frank Oostdam, President of the Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (ANVR), has been elected today as President of the travel agents and tour operators of Europe.

Nicosia, 10 June 2022. During its semi-annual meeting held on 9 and 10 June in Nicosia, the representatives of the travel agents and tour operators of Europe elected Frank Oostdam, Netherlands, as President for a two-year term. Heli Mäki-Fränti, Finland, was elected Vice-President and Marios Kammenos, Greece, was re-elected Treasurer. The delegates also thanked Pawel Niewiadomski, the outgoing president, for his commitment and achievements during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Frank Oostdam said: “I am very honoured to be elected as President of ECTAA. The travel and tourism industry in Europe faces multiple challenges. Covid-19 pandemic is not over and the war in Ukraine, the increasing energy prices and shortage of skilled labour force are putting additional pressure on travel companies. My first priority will be therefore to work with political leaders and industry partners on setting the right framework for our industry to recover from the past two years and be able to operate. At the same time, I am a firm believer that travel companies should give sustainability a prominent role in their renewed business strategy. This is why ECTAA will actively help its members to bring the right support to companies to act as quickly as possible.”


Note the editors:

ECTAA regroups the national associations of travel agents and tour operators of 30 European countries and represents some 70.000 enterprises.

Greece: ECTAA’s Preferred Destination for 2022

While the political and economic context remains difficult for the whole tourism industry, 2022 will hopefully be synonym of recovery for travel and tourism in Europe. To turn hopes into reality, the Greek National Tourist Organisation and ECTAA signed an agreement to make Greece the Preferred Destination of the European umbrella association of travel agents and tour operators.

Brussels, 8 April 2022. With the agreement, ECTAA pledges to promote Greece as its Preferred Destination among the 70.000 travel agents and tour operators across Europe, highlighting the loving and hospitable locals, the stunning coastlines, beautiful islands, delicious cuisine and high-quality tourism infrastructure that offer memorable holidaying throughout the year: #AllYouWantIsGreece will become familiar for many European travellers.

During the 12 coming months, ECTAA will become an essential partner in the travel and tourism promotion programme outside of Greece by fostering relations between European travel agents and tour operators with the local destination management companies and other partners. GNTO and ECTAA will work hand in hand to not only promote Greece as one of the most attractive destinations in Europe but also as one of the safest.

"We are proud that the GNTO is confident in our preferred destination programme of the year. We are working together to make the best of it and give an opportunity for Greece to present again itself as a safe, innovative and sustainable destination in front of as many as 70,000 travel agencies and tour operators across Europe” said Eric Drésin, Secretary General of ECTAA.

Many activities are foreseen until the end of the year. These include actions aimed at positioning Greece as an attractive and a safe tourist destination. Moreover, a specific attention will be dedicated on the efforts of Greek authorities and tourism service providers to make Greece a sustainable destination. During the coming months, ECTAA and the GNTO will shed the light on break-through initiatives that have been recently taken in different parts of the country. This will notably take place during a series of webinars for travel agents and tour operators will take place during the two first weeks of May and to be formally announced in the coming days.

Greece is a fascinating year-round holiday destination in the Mediterranean. ECTAA is impatient to hold its semi-annual meeting in November in Creta: an occasion for the national delegates of ECTAA to get acquainted with the tourist experience outside the summer season and possibly start prospecting for future congresses of travel agents and tour operators in Greece.

People have waited patiently for better days to come. Now that these days are almost over, dreaming about a tailor-made holiday in Greece can start: for pleasure, for holiday, for a long weekend, for business, work or just for a short trip, Greece is the place to be!

Eric Drésin confirmed: “despite the current uncertainties, the tourism sector and travellers around the world eagerly await the return of travel. As ECTAA Preferred destination for 2022, the safety and proximity of Greece as a destination, the diversity and quality of its tourist offer, and certainly the breath-taking nature, unique heritage and gastronomy will be the centre of our promotion efforts. We are confident that this cooperation will bring successfully more travellers to Greece”.

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Announcement of an open call for SMEs - European tour operators and travel agents can now apply for an intensive, EU-funded support programme to improve their sustainability performance

ECTAA and a number of its member associations are participating in the EU-funded SUSTOUR project that fosters the uptake of sustainability tools and practices among travel agents and tour operators.

A call for SME application has been launched today with the aim to select 175+ European small and medium sized enterprisesthat will obtain technical support for the implementation of sustainability practices.

Brussels, 11 March 2022. Sustainability in tourism is the central challenge that the industry is facing in the 21st century. Now more than ever, we are aware of the vulnerability of life and how important it is to protect the beauty of our planet, which is the foundation of every tourism product. Travel agents and tour operators play a key role in this, given their position as intermediates between tourists, suppliers and destinations and thereby influencing consumer choices, supplier practices and destination development.

“The SUSTOUR project is a real opportunity for SMEs who would like to ’build back better’ in a postCOVID world. Thanks to the support of the European Commission, we can offer them this very intensive support programme” says Naut Kusters, Managing Director of ECEAT (European Centre for Eco and Agro Tourism) and Travelife for Tour Operators, the leading training, management and certification scheme.

This call for SME applications has been launched to select a minimum of 175 SMEs that will be able to benefit from a comprehensive support programme to help improve their sustainability performance. SMEs can choose to obtain support towards sustainability certification and/or implementation of innovative practices in their supply chain. All participating SMEs will receive the EU co-financing. SUSTOUR will additionally cover the remaining contribution for all SMEs that are members of a SUSTOUR partner or supporting travel association. Participation in the support programme for such SMEs is therefore free of charge. All other SMEs will have to provide an own contribution, ranging between 200€-400€ depending on the size of the SME.

The call for SME application is open until 10 May 2022, 17h00 CET.

The selection of SMEs will be completed by 7 of June.

The technical support programme is expected to start end of June 2022 and will end on 30 June 2023.

The call details and application guidelines are available from the following website:

Said Pawel Niewiadomski, President of ECTAA: “We encourage travel agents and tour operators to use the opportunities provided by this project and contribute step-by-step to a more sustainable tourism. As an important player of the tourism value chain, we have a shared responsibility to manage tourism in a sustainable way for present and future generations.”

The SUSTOUR project is led by a consortium composed of ECEAT and Futouris as well as 5 travel agents’ and tour operators’ associations, including ECTAA (Europe), ANVR (Netherland), UHPA (Croatia), SMAL (Finland) and APAVT (Portugal).

*** Background information

What is the SUSTOUR support programme for SMEs and what does it offer?

The SUSTOUR support programme for SMEs is financed under the EU COSME programme and designed to help tour operators and travel agencies in improving their sustainability performance. Travel companies interested to get started on sustainability or wishing to improve on their existing sustainability practices can benefit from a mix of innovative online trainings, multi-day classroom trainings, intensive coaching (group and individual) as well as peer-to-peer learning – all provided and guided by selected sustainable tourism experts.

How does the support programme work and what is required from companies?

Companies that have been selected in the call will be eligible to participate in a number of training and coaching sessions that are expected to start from end of June 2022 until June 30th , 2023. They will receive vouchers, which they have to hand over to pre-selected trainers, coaches and auditors after completion of an activity, who in turn will be paid by the SUSTOUR project. Companies that participate in the SUSTOUR call for SME support will be required to sign an agreement committing themselves to following the activities provided under the support programme until the end of June 2023.

Who are the partner or supporting travel associations?

The project partner travel associations include ANVR (Netherland), APAVT (Portugal), SMAL (Finland) and UHPA (Croatia). The supporting travel associations include ABTTA (Bulgaria), ABTO (Belgium), ALTA (Latvia), ATTA (Adventure Travel Trade Association – Europe), ASR and DRV (Germany), DRF (Denmark), EDV and SETO (France), ETFL (Estonia), ETOA (Europe), FATTA (Malta), FTO (Italy), HATTA (Greece), MUISZ (Hungary), NTVA (Lithuania), SACKA (Slovakia), SRF (Sweden), UPAV and VVR (Belgium) and WKÖ (Austria).

Who can apply?

The call is open to travel agents and tour operators, who meet certain eligibility criteria. Among others, they need to be a SME and established in an EU Member State or a third country participating in the COSME programme.

Deadline for submission of applications: Tuesday 10 May, 2022

Expected duration of participation: end of June 2022 to June 30th , 2023

Maximum financial support for selected SMEs: SMEs selected by the call will receive vouchers for support services of a value up to 6,000€, depending on the options selected by the SME in its application form.

Language in which proposals must be submitted: English, but support services will be available in various languages.

Where can I apply and find further information?

The call details and application guidelines are available from the following website:

Official project reference: SUSTOUR, GRO/SME/19/C/077 (COS-TOURCOOP-2019-3-01)



ECTAA represents some 70,000 travel agents and tour operators in Europe, which provide consultancy and sell transport, accommodation, leisure and other tourism services as well as combined products to leisure and business customers. 

ALTA joins European programme to promote sustainability among SMEs

ALTA is participating to the EU SUSTOUR project that fosters the uptake of sustainability tools and practices among travel agents and tour operators. As part of the project at least 175 European enterprises will obtain technical support. They will work towards Travelife certification and on the introduction of carbon, plastic and supply chain management tools. The programme is financially supported by the EU COSME programme, supporting the competitiveness of the European SME sector.

Riga, December 10, 2021. Sustainable tourism is no longer a niche product or market. All types of tourism can and must be made more sustainable. And all actors in the tourism value chain, including travel agents and tour operators, have a vital role to play in this transformation. As intermediates between tourists and tourism businesses tour operators and travel agents can influence the choices of consumers, practices of suppliers and the development in destinations.

The project will provide free technical support for travel agents and tour operators that want to improve their sustainability performance. A call for application for SME support will be launched later this year to offer interested travel agents and tour operators the opportunity to work towards Travelife certification, which is the leading training, management and certification scheme specifically designed for travel agents and tour operators and globally supported by the travel industry. The technical support will include training, one-on-one and group coaching to implement sustainability best practices, and Travelife certification. Companies can also apply for specific support packages related to carbon, plastic and / or supply chain management.

At the end of the project, it is expected that 175+ SMEs will benefit from the wider direct financial support programme rolled out under this project.

Said Inga Kavaca, Chairman of the board: “We encourage our members to use the opportunities provided by this project and contribute step-by-step to a more sustainable tourism. As an important player of the tourism value chain, we have a shared responsibility to manage tourism is a sustainable way for present and future generations.”


SUSTOUR aims to foster the capacities and skills of 175+ tour operators (SME’s) to implement training, management systems, standards and solutions, which will improve their sustainable management and performance and open up new market opportunities. SMEs from all EU countries will be able to benefit from SUSTOUR.

SUSTOUR is a three-year project funded by the EU COSME programme. It is managed jointly by ECEAT, FUTOURIS, ECTAA, UHPA, SMAL, ANVR and APAVT. In addition more than 15 national associations are supporting the initiative. The strong support will mainstream sustainability within the travel sector.

For more information, visit the project website.

Covid-19: Tourism Ministers and the Commission need to step up efforts for travel and tourism

Ahead of the informal meeting of the Tourism Ministers next week, ECTAA calls on the European leaders to come up with a more substantial rescue package, a coordinated covid-19 exit strategy and ambitious recovery plan for travel and tourism.

Brussels. 24 April 2020. The travel bans and closing of borders imposed to help contain the covid-19 spread has brought travel and tourism to a halt. Tourism hotspots are deserted, hotels and restaurants hauntingly empty, aircrafts parked on runways. The activity of a whole industry is suspended, with devastating impact for businesses, most of which are SMEs and family-run enterprises.

Tourism Ministers are meeting next Monday for an informal Council meeting. It is time for them, according to the European travel agents and tour operators association, to take coordinated action, as 80% of tourist arrivals in Europe are from intra-EU source markets.

Travel and tourism is the most affected sector, being the first to be hit and one of the last one to get out of the Covid-19 crisis with the phased lifting of travel restrictions. The road ahead is long and hard and financial support measures are key for the survival of the industry. But so far, they are few and aid has not yet reached the enterprises. “We need more financial commitment from Members States to this important industry, which contributes more than 10% of EU GDP and provides 12 million jobs” said Pawel Niewiadomski, President of ECTAA.

ECTAA strongly believe that is it time for the Commission and the Member States to set up in addition an ambitious recovery plan for the industry. Tourism must be firmly anchored in the Marshall recovery plan announced by Commission President von der Leyen. Tourism Ministers should cooperate and coordinate with the European Commission to see how such recovery plan is best implemented at national level to allow the sector to lift off again and help the transition to a more sustainable, digital and innovative tourism”.

“But this should not prevent Tourism Ministers to raise the issue of vouchers to the Commission”, added Pawel Niewiadomski. “While travel companies would like to refund their customers, there is no more cash in the system. A pragmatic solution helping travel companies to overcome the liquidity crisis without trading off consumer protection is needed”. ECTAA and many other stakeholders call for a temporary derogation from European legislations to offer vouchers in lieu of refunds, that are flexible, refundable at end of term and are guaranteed against the insolvency of the travel company.

While the industry commits to guarantee the consumers that they will be able to travel as soon travel restrictions are lifted, ECTAA calls on European leaders to adopt a common approach as regards the gradual lifting of the lock-down and conditions to restart travel and tourism. Industry could develop common guidelines on such issues as respect for social-distancing and hygiene rules, but different rules imposed in different countries must be avoided.

Pawel Niewiadomski, concluded “We are in an unprecedented crisis. We need to think out of the box. We need actions and we need them now. Otherwise many tourism actors will disappear and European tourism will contract. Nobody stands to win anything from this.”

The European travel agents and tour operators call upon the new Commission to work towards a competitive, transparent and sustainable travel market

The European Parliament approved yesterday the new von der Leyen Commission that will lead the European Commission until 2024. All the Commissioners are now ready to take office. ECTAA, the European organisation representing the travel agents and tour operators, is committed to help them make the travel market more competitive, more transparent and more sustainable.

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