International seminar on the future of tourism.

International sign interpreters will be provided.

The official language of the event is English.

Tourism is under pressure. Society is facing different challenges and tourism as an industry needs to be futureproof. During the VISITFLANDERS Day, we will all together search for solutions and discuss how the various actors can support and strengthen each other (even better) in the future.

This congress is being organized by VISITFLANDERS, Modul University Vienna, Catholic University Leuven, Leuven City, NBTC and the International Academy for the Study of Tourism


woensdag 1 juni 2022 van 9u30 tot 18u00


Faculty Club Leuven or online via HYBR (choice to be passed through the form at the bottom of this page)
Adress Faculty Club Leuven:
Groot Begijnhof 14
Bekijk routebeschrijving

What to expect

The recent pandemic, global climate change, and economic and political instability are putting strong pressure on society, including the tourism industry. During the VISITFLANDERS Day, we invite you to join us in thinking about how to respond to these "forces of change" in the future and to participate in the various debates that we are organizing in the context of this issue.

This 1-day hybrid international conference will offer you the unique opportunity to meet renowned tourism researchers (50 academics from the International Academy for the Study of Tourism) together with many leaders of European tourism, local and international tourism experts, different governmental bodies, industry partners and not to forget the inhabitants of Flanders to connect, to discuss and to build together the future of tourism under the umbrella of Visit Flanders’ vision: Travel to Tomorrow.  

The program consists of 3 debates, a series of best cases from Flanders and all over Europe and real moments to share, to learn and to network.

The VISITFLANDERS Day is also embedded within the renowned conference of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism taking place in Leuven at the same time.    

This Day will be sustainable, accessible and hybrid. 


Start at 9.30 AM

Welcoming and introduction

3 debates

The 3 debates will be moderated by Katrina Sichel and will each time feature the voices of the industry, the academic world, the government and the residents or civil society.

It will be an interactive day. Each debate will be constructed around 3 main questions which will be the basis for the panel members and the audience in the room and online to formulate together the solutions for the future.

Debate 1: Innovating in times of crises

At VISITFLANDERS we have gone through a strong innovation process to develop our new vision Travel to Tomorrow. This was pre COVID-19. However, we but must continue to innovate - even in times of crisis. What would be the next step? Can we, for example, innovate in the way we roll out our vision?  But is the concept of innovation clear to all partners? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted society and the tourism industry. Can we use this challenging period as a renewal and catalyzer for innovation and a unique opportunity for change? Can we innovate for the better and become more futureproof and resilient if another crisis hits? Innovation is more than inventions - it is about 'renewal' but also about improving a product or a service.  

During this debate, we want partners to talk about how they have innovated during times of crisis - why innovation is important in general, but especially within our sector. We will discuss the pitfalls but also listen to tips and tricks on how to innovate within the tourism ecosystem - at local, regional, national and international level.

Panel members

  • Kathleen Van Boxelaer, Director Communications, Sustainability & External Affairs at TUI Western Region 
  • Xavier Font, Professor at the University of Surrey 
  • Eduardo Santander, CEO of the European Travel Commission 
  • Milosz Momot - European Commission – Deputy Head of Unit - DG GROW, Unit F4: Tourism, textiles and creative industries 

Best cases from Ljubica Knezevic Cvelbar, Pauline Steverlynck (Stay at Home Museum and brand new project from Visit Flanders) and Kristijan Svajnzger (Intrepid)

Ljubica Ksenevic will be harvester 

Debate 2: Future Governance

At VISITFLANDERS we have developed our new vision and the question now is how to involve our sector, our partners, the industry and make them share the vision. As a learning organisation, we want to understand what the needs are and what solutions are needed for the destination to flourish. 


“The set up for European NTOs is very fragmented. That is very typically European and it should stay like that. In the future we don’t need extra structure but we do need extra opportunities for working together like ETC, like ECM. These networks exist so why not strengthen them? Every destination operates within a framework that is unique. But there are a few commonalities for all European destinations…considering tourism not as a goal in itself but a means to an end - flourishing destinations. That’s a vision that we can all embrace. And then you have to define what flourishing is. For some places ‘flourishing’ will be defined differently if tourism constitutes 5 or 50 % of the economy. The ultimate challenge is about how to make people feel happy where they live and where they visit”. Peter De Wilde, CEO of VISITFLANDERS 


Europe wants to evolve towards green, digital and inclusive tourism. But how do national, regional and local governments look to the future? As a government, we have several roles: from steering to subsidizing and from facilitating to regulating. Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs) are also responsible to actively facilitate the industry transition process to green, inclusive and digital. This means taking over more development, management, and governance functions, which are competence of tourism authorities across the diverse levels of governance. Are we moving from governance of tourism to governance of destination? And what does the concept of destination partnership mean?

In this second debate we want to find out what stakeholders expect from governments, what the industry needs and how to include the resident in your policy. We also want to look at existing examples from local, regional, national and international governance of the future. Do different administrations work together? What are the 'real' challenges for governing the tourism industry in the next 10 years? And how can NTOs optimize and prepare for the future?

Panel members

  • Jos Vranken, CEO of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Congresses (NBTC) 
  • Sven Wiltink, Global Director Responsible Business,  Radisson Hotel Group 
  • Constanza Parra, Professor of Sustainable Development at the Catholic University of Leuven 
  • Terry Brown, Programme Manager at the Travel Foundation

Best cases from Joni Asselberghs (European Best Destinations nominee) and Kristof Lataire and Veerle Viaene (VISITFLANDERS)

Debate 3: Mobility - It’s about more than CO2 emissions

We at Visit Flanders want to facilitate a constructive and transparent debate and is looking for inspiration and lessons learned to create a framework around this topic for the coming decade.

Tourism is said to account for 8% of total carbon emissions worldwide and the United Nations predicts a 25% increase in tourism emissions by 2030. But mobility is more than carbon emissions. 

Mobility, the sustainability of transport and how people travel to and from their destination are hot topics.  Concepts such as flight shaming, training, smart travelling, partial mobility, SAFs (Sustainable Aviation Fuels), carbon emissions offsetting, etc. appear in the media on a daily basis. 

The Covid-19 pandemic severely impacted the EU’s transport and tourism sectors in 2020, both directly impact the industries’ income and indirectly by changing mobility and tourism patterns. The EU is also undertaking studies to consider what to do next after the Covid-19 pandemic (see Study from the EU Parliament - Relaunching transport and tourism in the EU after Covid-19).  

In the debate we want to tackle the real challenges and identify the actual elements we need to ‘travel to tomorrow’. It’s not only about being CO2 neutral but also about pricing, comfort and accessible travel. What else do we need to take into consideration? How can we formulate solutions locally, regionally and internationally and where and how do we start?

Panel members

  • Piet Demunter, Chief Business Development Officer - Brussels Airport Company
  • Sven Pöllauer, Head of PR & Marktkommunikation at ÖBB Personenverkehr AG 
  • Paul Peeters, Professor at the Breda University of Applied Sciences - Tourism  
  • Bram Van Braekeveldt, City of Ghent    
  • Flora Joossens,  Hub coach at VISITFLANDERS (Why Holidays Matter)

Best cases from Maarten Bastian from GreenCityTrip and Flora Joossens from VISITFLANDERS (Why Holidays Matter)

Valeria Croce will be harvester.


Do you need extra facilities or do you have other requests because of a certain disability (e.g. a parking space close to the venue because of a physical disability, transport assistance (this can also be from for example a nearby bus stop), individual sound support (headphones to follow the speakers), certain dietary needs due to food allergies,...). Please send an email to or give us a call at 00 32 484 061 356.



Seats for onsite participation in the Faculty Club are limited. So be quick to register!

I will take part in the lunch


Do you have any specific remarks or requests? Are there any questions we can submit to the panelists in advance? Be sure to let us know!

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