Photo Credit: City Destinations Alliance

Tourism in Transit

The City Destinations Alliance’s Autumn Conference “Tourism in Transit”, which was held in Tel Aviv on October 19-22, 2022, was the opportunity for the 125+ delegates from European cities and beyond to talk about all the transitions tourism is seeing and whether these are passing trends or here to stay. It was the first Conference organised under the new name of the association formerly known as European Cities Marketing.

The world is facing hyperinflation, global recession, the war in Europe and rising geopolitical tensions. At the same time, people are navigating new technology with the metaverse and searching for the right platform to embark on the high speed for net zero journey. The “Tourism in Transit” Conference helped answer questions that concern every tourism organisation.


The conference highlighted a few key figures from the DMOs present in the room. 55% said that it’s too soon to say if they Built Back Better. Nearly 100% see tourism taking climate action as a big transition and 62% belief in the major systemic shift towards tourism advancing EDI goals (Equity, Diversity & Inclusion).


Jeremy Smith from Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency & The Travel Foundation pointed out how easily we get distracted from real issues: WWF just published that wildlife populations have declined globally by 69% in less than 50 years. If there is anything but a big, radical transition in near future, there will be no future to talk about. Guy Bigwood from GDS-Movement followed up with his perspective on a regenerative future.

Petra Stušek

City Destinations Alliance’s President

City Destinations Alliance’s President, Petra Stušek concluded: “The Conference explored multiple levels on how the DMOs can “Build Back Better”. Fundamental questions have been asked: what is lost in translation, what is a passing trend only and what is here to stay as a big transition? We explored the critical role of DMOs in climate action; where to start, and how to create support and engage stakeholders and the community. We focused on the challenges and opportunities, requirements and expectations of the role and purpose of CVBs in the future. Is phygital the new balance of destination marketing? How to successfully include stakeholders in responsible tourism manifestos on the destination… Burning questions with exciting discussions and concrete answers!”.

Photo Credit: Vid Rotar


The DMO must shift focus to community relevance & service, as it was underlined by Anthony Everett, from 4VI, Frank Haas, formerly from Hawaii Tourism Authority & Jack Johnson from Destinations International. Listening to Gerry Proctor from Engage Liverpool, Angel Diaz, Council Member of Barcelona City, & Inger-Margrethe Jensen, Rethinkers at VisitAarhus, it was crystal clear that discussions of tourism have long since taken to streets & public fora shaped by a multitude of interest holders, engaged & active citizens. It’s Time for DMOcracy!


Telling great community stories must come from within the community; this requires trust & relationship-building. Emmy Award-winner, Rondel Holder, shared how NYC & Company is representing diverse communities with engaging & authentic content, while Frédérick Boutry shared’ approach in inviting more inclusive tourism, engaging with LGBTQI+ communities. Anu Syrmä shared how Helsinki Partners have worked for years to give locals voice, while recent Helsinki Curious initiative did a 180-degree turn by letting artists, who never visited Helsinki, represent the city only using their own knowledge of the city.


Jacqui Kenny, also known as The Agoraphobic Traveller, immersed attendees in dream-like images from exploring the world via Google Street View. The majority of the room voted Metaverse more hype than hope, but Hannah Gutkauf from Manyone made the room reconsider think about the need for long-term planning for phygital hybrid realities ahead, while Jonathan Gomez Punzón from Málaga Tourism Board shared their advanced planning & real-time data analysis for better destination management.

Many more insights were shared throughout the 2-day conference from other CityDNA members destinations such as Aarhus, Amsterdam, Athens, Budapest, Catalonia, Copenhagen, Germany, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Maastricht, The Hague and Valencia, but also from companies and organisations like It’s July, Kenes Group, Miles Partnership, OECD, ReD Associates, TripDoodler and Trippz as well as CityDNA’s Partners: ForwardKeys, IMEX Group, Modul University Vienna and Simpleview.

The conference was moderated by Signe Jungersted, CEO and Co-Founder of Group NAO. Sharon Landes-Fischer, CEO of Tel Aviv Global said “It was with great pleasure that we hosted the CityDNA 2022 Autumn Conference here in Tel Aviv. From riveting presentations to guided tours around the city to exhilarating parties, we enjoyed showing some of the best parts of sunny Tel Aviv. Through our partnership with CityDNA and participating European cities, we will continue to learn from, and inspire, each other. Tel Aviv cannot wait to welcome and host even more tourists from around the world, here in the nonstop city. So, pack your bags but pack lightly, because as you may have heard – we don’t do winter!”

The next City Destinations Alliance International Conference will take place in Sofia on April 19-22, 2023.