ETC Handbook on Covid-19 NTO Recovery Strategies

Since the emergence of COVID-19, Toposophy has been guiding destinations at all levels on planning a sustainable transition. We know that like public bodies everywhere, National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) are facing urgent questions from all sides, with many having made drastic changes both to their external role and internal structure.

To chart what’s happening and give clarity for decision making in an ever-changing environment, we’ve created the Handbook on Covid-19 Recovery Strategies, published by the European Travel Commission. The study looks at the mitigation and recovery policies of European NTOs and explains why now is the time to adapt national tourism recovery planning to a more sustainable framework. Many have observed that the tourism sector needs to ‘build back better’ in the future. With this report, we explain how NTOs should do this.

Our top four takeaways:
  • NTOs genuinely see Covid-19 as a genuine turning point for that will allow them to develop a more sustainable vision for tourism.
  • They’re likely to withdraw funding from promotional activities that aren’t viable, and sectors with high carbon emissions.
  • Remote working and digitalisation has accelerated NTOs’ work patterns and improved communication, which are changes that they intend to keep.
  • Funding for international promotion will be reduced in the coming years, as NTOs focus more on analysing visitor behaviour and building partnerships at home.
  • With a refreshed vision, NTOs can reinvent themselves as agents of change, supporting their tourism sectors in transitioning to a low-carbon economy and more sustainable consumer trends.
Our approach: 

Firstly, using primary research (a quantitative survey of ETC members) we examined the mitigation policies that European NTOs adopted to soften the impact of the pandemic on the local tourism sector and the ambitions and concerns they have for the future. We also carried out interviews with the CEOs of four European NTOs (in the Czech Republic, Iceland, the Netherlands and Portugal) which were particularly revealing. These interviews gave contextual insights on the future role of NTOs, together with contemporary shifts in consumer behaviour as well as the post-COVID-19 opportunities that their organisations are addressing.

Finally, we addressed the tricky question of the imperative for growth vs. the need to reduce the negative impacts of tourism, and set out a clear agenda to guide NTOs in planning their own recovery strategy in the coming years.

Of course, it’s not just NTOs that are adapting to the challenges that Covid-19 has created for tourism worldwide. In May, as part of our Industry Partnership with European Cities Marketing, we released the highly practical DMMO COVID-19 Continuity Checklist, while we also guided the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) and the City of Seville in shifting from their response to recovery measuresin shifting from response to recovery measures.

We are ready to support you too, through our range of services in destination intelligence, strategic foresight and policymaking, marketing and branding, and placemaking leadership.

What TOPOSOPHY can do for you

We have been global thought leaders in destination development, management and marketing for the last 10 years. We transform places and destinations through the skills and international experience of 12 members of staff and a global network of 20+ experts. In total, we have undertaken projects and offered integrated solutions to trusted clients in 20+ countries across 4 continents. We’re ready to support you too.

Some of our services include:

  • Destination performance assessments
  • Destination management strategies & action plans 
  • Place audits and experience design
  • Place making & branding strategies
  • Resident & consumer sentiment research 
  • Research on key geo-demographic markets
  • COVID-19 response strategies
  • DMO assesments and organisational change
  • Stakeholder mapping
  • Community consultation
  • Advocacy planning and communications
  • Trendwatching, scenario planning, C-Suite briefing
  • Recovery Marketing
  • Insights presentations, strategy sprints & innovation workshops
Contact us

If you’d like to know more about what we’ve presented here, you’re always welcome to get in contact with us. Just drop us a line at or send us a note through our contact page.





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