Word from the President 2012
Another year is coming to its end – which always is a reason for a review and assessment of what has happened. As already
mentioned in my recent message, one of the main topics worldwide still remains the on-going economic crisis in many parts of the world: In 2012, Europe continued to struggle its way through downgrades, bank bailouts and fear, in particular in Southern Europe. According to Euromonitor International’s estimates, 13 of the 27 EU member states are predicted to fall into recession in 2012 as demand remains subdued. But also in the U.S., the economy is struggling which therefore was one of the predominant election campaign issues in the recent presidential vote.
Surprisingly, despite this crisis the number of international tourists worldwide grew by 4% between January and August 2012 compared to the same eight months of 2011, according to UNWTO statistics. Growth was stronger in Asia and the Pacific and Africa, followed by the Americas and Europe. But even Europe could consolidate its record growth of 2011.
Thus travel and tourism has become a more and more important factor in the global economy and its recovery. The growing importance of the travel and tourism industry, of course, goes hand in hand with an increase of interest in travel and tourism law. We can be very proud that IFTTA certainly is one of the leading sources at the international level to satisfy this interest – if not the leading source.
But we still can get better. I therefore invite all of you to post important cases and legislative developments from your jurisdiction to our website. The more members that contribute, the better the website will become.
Though it was the first year for a long time that we didn’t convene for a world conference, the professional exchange, discussion of legal issues and sharing of experiences still worked out well through our website, our email groups and, of course, our regional meeting at the IFTTA Europe Workshop in Rostock.
Let’s turn from the past to the future now:
2013 is going to be a very exciting year for IFTTA marking the 30th anniversary of its foundation in Jerusalem in 1983. We are very proud that some of the first executive officers of IFTTA like our presidents emeriti Dov Kolani, Al Anolik and John Downes bare still active in IFTTA and share their valuable experiences with the growing number of new members.
In February, the IFTTA North America meeting will take place, including a boar meeting to discuss important IFTTA matters.
The highlight for IFTTA in 2013 certainly will be our 24th world conference in Sydney to be organised by our local member, Barrie Goldsmith. We are well aware that this attractive venue where IFTTA already had a world conference back in 1990 also means a big challenge because most of our members will have a long way to travel. However, I am positive that the spirit of IFTTA, the deep bonding between IFTTA members and the enthusiasm to bring our association forward will secure a successful conference which I am looking forward to with big excitement. I invite all IFTTA members and everyone else who is interested to contribute to the success which the conference deserves by participating, presenting papers, taking part in the discussions and sharing a time of professional exchange as well as friendship within our “IFTTA family”.
Last but not least, I wish all IFTTA members a peaceful and relaxed holiday season and a good start into the new year which shall bring you health and friendship as well as success and satisfaction in your professional and private life.
Dear IFTTA members,
All over the world, and in particular in Europe, the economic crisis is the number one topic in the news. It is not surprising
that IFTTA and its members do not remain unaffected by these economic developments which cause many individuals
and organisations to review and, where possible, cut their expenses. Under these circumstances, the IFTTA board has
therefore, after thorough consideration, decided to – at least temporarily – change the frequency of world conferences to
having a World Conference every two years only. Thus, the next World Conference planned for Sydney will take place in
2013. While many of us, including myself certainly, will regret not to meet at a World Conference in 2012, the decision
gives us the chance to put additional focus on the preparation of the Sydney conference in order to ensure its success.
Anyway, the fact that there will be no World Conference this year, doesn’t mean that IFTTA has reduced its activities, far from it:
The IFTTA Europe section has held its workshop in Rostock in April, perfectly organised by Klaus Tonner and Uta
Stenzel and characterised by high level papers and intensive discussions on the key issues and developments in European
Travel Law. The North American section of IFTTA is currently preparing its own regional meeting for December 2012 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Though these meetings are regional, they of course always remain open for participation of all IFTTA members regardless
of their place of residence. Thus, the European meeting in Rostock welcomed members from Brazil, Mexico and the
U.S. and the North American meeting will also see participation from other continents. Even if there is no World Conference,
these regional meetings provide a chance to meet and a forum for professional exchange in Travel and Tourism Law.
Upon invitation by the European Commission, I have, on behalf of IFTTA, attended a stakeholders’ workshop on the
revision on the Package Travel Directive in Brussels this June. However, the outcome of this meeting was somewhat disappointing: the Commission did not even present any basic ideas of their concept for the revision and so the discussions
mainly dealt with the different views of the various stakeholders on issues which have been discussed ever since. The
Commission announced their proposal for a new PTD for spring 2013. However, doubts remain.
Last but not least, Vice President Harry Manuel and I had another official meeting with UNWTO officials in June where
we discussed details of our further cooperation. I will, of course, keep you updated on the further developments.
Dear IFTTA members,
In my most recent message of last year I had mentioned
IFTTA’s intention to intensify its cooperation with UNWTO. At the end of January, Vice-President Harry Manuel and I paid an official visit to the UNWTO head
It was quite obvious that Sec. Gen. Rifai was very satisfied the work that had been done by IFTTA members in the past. Also, it seems natural that UNWTO as the world organisation dedicated to tourism and IFTTA as an association of experts with regard to the legal framework of travel and tourism join their forces to assist legislators in the field of travel and tourism worldwide.
We are very optimistic that the good relations with UNWTO will even become closer with these projects.
Recently legislators fromaround the globe have focussed on improving passenger rights. There was a certain emphasis on air travel, where national and regional legislators try to supplement the rules of the Montreal Convention in areas which are not covered by this international legal instrument. The new legislation mainly deals with issues like denied boarding, flight cancellation and tarmac delays. Though the aim to improve the passengers’ legal remedies is certainly desirable, the practical implementation has hadits difficulties: sometimes the rules are too complicated or vague and ambiguous
, sometimes their compatibility with international law is questionable and – last but not least – sometimes the enforcement of the new rules leaves a lot to be desired.
However, the spectacular accident of the “Costa Concordia” has shifted our attention to sea travel. It is a coincidence that only a few weeks before the accident, the EU Council had approved the accession of the European Union to the Protocol of 2002 to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea. Despite the accident, cruise tourism will remain a rapidly growing market and the legal framework governing sea travel will become more and more important. IFTTA and its members certainly will have their share in the legal discussion on these issues.
I sincerely hope that we can share some of these discussions at our upcoming conferences.