The Belgian region of Flanders has taken over the presidency of the Network of European Regions for Sustainable and Competitive Tourism (NECSTouR). Peter De Wilde, CEO of Visit Flanders and of the Flanders Heritage Agency now chairs the network, taking over from Yolanda De Aguilar, Secretary General for Tourism in the Andalusia Government.
NECSTouR unites more than 40 top European regional destinations and, through interregional cooperation, it seeks to influence European decision-making related to tourism. The network supports its members to realise the “tourism of tomorrow” through a cooperation strategy focused on sustainable tourism development, “smart” innovative destinations and data-driven destination development.
Visit Flanders strengthens the positive power of tourism with the aim of making Flanders flourish as an innovative, inspiring and quality tourism destination, as well as supporting the tourism sector to further develop the region as a tourism destination and promoting it abroad, NECSTour says. These efforts benefit the place along with its residents, entrepreneurs and visitors.
Regions can play a key role in leading a smart and sustainable approach to managing tourist destinations and NECSTouR has the necessary experience to support us in this.Peter De Wilde, CEO Visit Flanders
“The Flemish chairmanship of NECSTouR offers opportunities to spread our Flemish vision ‘Travel to Tomorrow’ among European regions and at European and international level”, said De Wilde. “But also to explore opportunities to realise Flemish tourism projects by using European support mechanisms.”
De Wilde also praised NECSTouR’s ‘Tourism of Tomorrow, which Flanders will start using for personalised services to make more data-driven decisions. The aim of the lab is to create an ecosystem where tourism professionals and data experts can work together to develop projects, share knowledge and disseminate best practices in destination management.
During the Andalusian presidency key milestones were achieved thanks to the network’s projects, such as actions to promote destinations’ climate action in a common plan, practices and partnerships to move towards a regenerative destinations’ model, the one year anniversary in coaching Destination Management Organisations in measuring sustainable tourism for decision-making through the Tourism of Tomorrow Lab, former president De Aguilar said. “We are firmly convinced that Flanders will brilliantly lead the network in direction of a tourism transition to sustainability and respond to common challenges through European cooperation”, she added.
“Flanders is now taking over the presidency from Andalusia, and we want to work to strengthen the role of regions in EU tourism policy, raise the profile of tourism on the European agenda and maximise the benefits of NECSTouR membership in destination management”, De Wilde concluded.