ECM Annual conference in Zagreb: European Cities are up and looking east

 European Cities Marketing, the network of leading Tourist Offices and Conventions Bureaux in Europe are building BRIC into their forward strategy considering the opportunity they present for the leisure and meetings industry, starting with their annual conference on June 6-9 in host city Zagreb “BRIC markets – focus on Russia, India, China – an opportunity for European Cities.”

European Cities continued their upward trend in 2011. The European Cities Marketing Benchmarking report 2012 from European Cities Marketing (ECM) indicates that member cities are achieving an average year on year growth of 6.2 % domestically and 8 % internationally. Perhaps more surprisingly the first results also revealed that the fastest growing source markets were Russia (up 36%) and China (up 30 %).

Garry White, the incoming CEO of European Cities Marketing who has spent the last five years working in the Asia Pacific region as Regional Director for Visit Britain commented :
“BRIC markets and in particular Russia, India and China are already important source markets for European Cities. The economies are strong and they never really felt the impact of the global economic crisis as we did in Europe. You have a huge middle class segment emerging together with a significant high net worth, luxury segment and there is a lot of interest in travel to Europe. From a Chinese perspective Europe fascinates, but a lot of their perceptions are shaped by the film industry and European consumer brands. The challenge and the opportunity is to present a product that is more tailor-made to a Chinese/BRIC audience. My belief and experience indicates that Europe is more attractive as an “idea” than a set of individual countries and that cities are far more interesting than the countries they belong to. Chinese buyers and consumers would be far more attracted by the idea of visiting a number of European Cities than visiting any one country in Europe and that presents us with a tremendous opportunity at ECM.”

The China and Asia Meetings Industry Research Report 2011 sponsored by CIBTM supports this view. A poll of Chinese meeting industry buyers cited Europe as the second most attractive destination after domestic/North Asia and interestingly suggested that Green, environmental and CSR issues are becoming increasingly important in the decision making process. However, the product is very little known yet and surprisingly under-sold. Europe stands to lose considerable market share to aggressive competitors who see the opportunity.

The ECM BRIC conference will help the meeting and leisure industries prepare for a period of unprecedented change and opportunity and learn from best practice. Keynote speaker was Amitabh Kant, the man behind the Incredible India campaign and currently the CEO of Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). DMIC is the largest infrastructure project in India since Chandigarh which involved leading architects such as Le Corbusier. The DMIC initiative has a budget of US 90 billion and involves the creation of seaports, airports and up to 36 smart new cities. Mr. Amitabh Kant is also the author of “Branding India – An Incredible Story” and has been the key driver of the “Incredible India” and “God’s Own Country” campaigns which positioned and branded India and the Kerala State as leading tourism destinations. Both these campaigns have won several international awards and embraced a host of activities – infrastructure development, product enhancement, private-public partnership and positioning and branding based on extensive market research.

Other invited guests included specialists and experts on China including Roy Graff, an accomplished Business Development and Marketing specialist who has worked closely with tour operators, media and government officials in Asia, Europe, Middle East and North America or Sally Greenhill, destination development specialist. The Russian market was covered by experts from TMI Moscow and Moscow tourism advisory Committee, respectively Helen Lloyd and Alexey Volov.

White went on to say: “Cities never stand still. In the future every city will need to compete globally for their fair share of talent, business, meetings and tourism. Our BRIC conference will lay the foundation for our approach in BRIC markets. We are already mapping out the possibility for a Meet Europe event in either India or China or both in 2013. I think it is becoming clear that Russia, India and China present a great opportunity for European Cities. These are not future markets – they are happening now! “

*ECM (European Cities Marketing) improves the competitiveness and performance of leading cities of Europe by providing a platform for convention, leisure and city marketing professionals to exchange knowledge, best practice and widen their network to build new business. European Cities Marketing is promoting and linking the interests of more than 120 members from more than 100 major cities in 32 countries.

For more information and pictures, please contact:
Flavie Baudot,, +33 380 56 02 00