City DNA's European Cities Reunited in Hamburg

2nd May, 2022

The ECM International Conference in Hamburg on March 30-April 2, 2022 was the opportunity for more than 190 delegates from European cities and beyond to meet again in person and discuss tourism as an integral part of the shared DNA that unites our cities. The conference was also the opportunity for European Cities Marketing to unfold its new brand: City Destinations Alliance (CityDNA).

Reunited with Purpose WITH PURPOSE

Lviv Tourism’s Head of TIC, Lidia Fedchuk and Lviv Convention Bureau’s Deputy Director, Sofiya Kayinska had the room speechless as they shared all they do and the strength with which they do it in the face of the horrors and atrocities of war to help international journalists, working on all levels to inform industry, associations and others on how best to help.
On the collaborative padlet CityDNA is sharing examples from tourism and hospitality uniting to support Ukraine.

Create Change Through What you do and how you do it

Jakob Trollbäck, Founder of The New Division and Creator of the iconic Graphic Language for the 17 UN SDGs inspired the room, as he spoke about the power of design and communication – and simplification and human decency – in creating change. The SDGs needed to be recognizable and understandable around the world, transcending regional, cultural and linguistic barriers. He came up with 17 unique icons, which have now become part of our collective consciousness!

Norbert Kettner, CEO ofVienna Tourist Board shared how the city has been campaigning famous artwork on OnlyFans as a protest to censorship by Facebook & Instagram while refocusing on the role of cities.

Viva con Agua’s Benjamin Adrion took the meaning of engaging for change and building purposeful social business to new levels, including the 12 levels of their new Viva Villa in Hamburg. The organisation’s engagement is to provide access to drinking water to all. They connect people to raise awareness about the importance of water as a resource by using the universal language of music, sport, art and tourism!

What we do today... 

…Not only shapes tomorrow, but also impacts all the other parts of the ecosystem, in which tourism is part. It’s not foreseeing fleeting trends, but transitions – as pointed out by urban futurist Marianne Lefever, in discussion on the future health of cities with economist Jan Eeckhout, challenging our view of gentrification, and the need to design “8 to 80 cities”.

What we do today is also about the legacy and impact left behind. We explored the new future scenarios of business events from the German Convention Bureau with Matthias Schultze, we learned how Glasgow Convention Bureau is building on the legacy of COP26 with Aileen Crawford, we explored the new tool of Madrid Convention Bureau to guide meeting organisers to minimize footprint and maximize their legacy potential with David Noack Pérez, and we heard from Visit Flanders and #Meet4impact how they have developed a new methodology to co-develop legacy and measurement of positive impact with Gemmeke De Jongh and Geneviève Leclerc.

What we do today is also about making sure the visitor economy is part of supporting and empowering better places to both live, work and play – as shared by Pia Lange Christensen from VisitAarhus and Riikka Lahdensuo from City of Helsinki.

The Future is already here... 

Or at least the metaverse is, as already adopted by leading smart destination Visit Benidorm, presented by Carola Valls. Or as shared by Lugano Living Lab’s Jan Trautmann with crypto currency for visitors, or new destination data management in Toerisme Veluwe Arnhem Nijmegen, presented by Herre Dijkema, and social data for city DNA by amsterdam&partners’ Maya Janssen and TCI Research’s Olivier Henry-Biabaud.

But the future is also co-created. With visitors seeking “local experiences” and spreading towards previously undiscovered neighborhoods, there is increasing demand for tourism that focuses on beauty of everyday life. But how to make these immaterial treasures visible in ways that strengthen and support local communities? Ko Koens, Wendy Raaphorst, Claudia Mayer & Charlotte Beukers from Inholland University of Applied Sciences put into practice the co-creation by holding an interactive session where attendees looked at how best to achieve this together with stakeholders – with the help of the “Co-Design Canvas”.

Finally, the future needs to regenerate: Laura Storm Founder of Regenerators inspired us and empowered us to connect our own leadership to a regenerative tomorrow.

Participants also got the latest from other CityDNA member cities such as Antwerp, Berlin, Hamburg, Heidelberg and Tel Aviv, but also from companies and organisations like the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Tony’s Chocolonely, Visit Queensland Australia, World Travel & Tourism Council as well as CityDNA’s Partners: ForwardKeys, GDS-Movement, Modu University, Simpleview and Transparent.

The conference was co-moderated by Signe Jungersted and Peter Rømer Hansen, from Group NAO.

City Destinations Alliance’s President, Petra Stušek said; “Our first in-person conference since 2019 was a real success: both in terms of content, of the organisation from the host city and of course the people, our beloved members who mobilized and came in large numbers. We met and worked for a full 3-day event to create new narratives, new partnerships and a new trajectory for urban tourism!”

“For us the conference was also the occasion to share our new brand and celebrate the association’s 15th anniversary! The sense of community that defines our association was really displayed during this conference and all social programme events”.

The next City Destinations Alliance Conference will take place in Tel Aviv on October 19-22, 2022.

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