Tourism and the environment are two subjects that should be both complementary and important to any person responsible for developing policies and strategies that focus on sustainable development today. The European Union of Tourism Officers (EUTO) has been organizing conferences and study visits whose central focus has been sustainable tourism for the past five years. The themes chosen have not only considered the academic studies and thesis concerned with creating a more eco-friendly tourism activity but have also included eyewitness accounts and analysis of examples of best practice.

During this year’s EUTO event in Nottingham and London, the president for the organization opened the event at the Nottingham City Hall on September 22 by referring to the present global competitive situation today. In an interview, Ms. Liz Buchanan said: “We must ensure that all initiatives and projects for tourism today comply with effective and efficient policies for a cleaner and less damaging environment. Those policies that both the visitor and the local community can benefit from a better quality of life”.

During the week the delegates visited an eco-friendly project, the Attenborough Park Reserve, which was opened a few years ago and was developed by reclaiming industrial land to turn this area into a nature reserve and ecologically enhanced product and experience.

The group also experienced the recent initiative taken by the local council together with private enterprise to develop a public transport system that is both ecologically sound and environmentally friendly. The ethanol-operated buses together with an efficient tram system already provide the basis for a cleaner environment.

“In October 2006, EUTO issued the Malta statement following its conference and study visit to the Mediterranean Islands, within that statement we referred to the environment when we stated that we encourage initiatives to protect the environment, on which so much of our product depends, for this and future generations,” Ms. Buchanan added. “Today, we reiterate that statement and we ask all European member states to provide the necessary infrastructure and culture to support.”

The European Union of Tourist Officers (Europäischer Verband für Tourismus-Fachleute / Union Européenne des Cadres du Tourisme) (EUTO) formally came into being on the October 3, 1975. EUTO fosters networking between tourism professionals in Europe working in the public and private sectors either at a national, regional or local level.

The organization today looks to make Europe a better destination for visitors. It is a known fact that international projections published by the UNWTO do point to growth and emerging markets outside the traditional destination of Europe – particularly Asia and the Middle East. If the European destinations wish to maintain their present market share, or even increase this, then they will have to consider alternative strategies and policies that encourage today’s discerning visitor to choose this established destination. Europe has got an interesting variety of history, culture and traditions spanning centuries. But, today’s visitor wants an exciting and educational itinerary that reflects value for money and an acceptable product quality that will ensure the perception that every destination matches the actual experience.