Delegate numbers up for B2B event focused on southeast Europe

A trade event focused on destinations in southeast Europe and the Balkans attracted the “greatest selection” ever assembled of tourism professionals from the region earlier this week.

The New Deal Europe Marketplace and Forum 2024 was held on Tuesday (April 16), at Congress Centre in London.

More than 1,300 meetings were held at the sold-out event, covering destinations from the Alps to the Aegean.

There were more than 90 buyer and 65 supplier companies in the B2B marketplace, a 30% increase on the previous year.

Twelve countries in the region were represented at the event and they were joined by a guest delegation from the Slovenian-speaking Rezija region in Italy.

There were also presentations from the national tourism boards of Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Moldova as well as from the city tourism board of Zagreb.

Nejc Jus, head of research at the World Travel & Tourism Council, said 2023 had been a “great year” for the region, with growing demand for off-the-beaten track places growing.

Albania exceeded 10 million tourists for the first time, while Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Slovenia and North Macedonia were also seeing sustained growth.

“We need to ensure that this growth is sustainable, and that it benefits the environment and local communities,” he added.

He cited Slovenia, which saw its travel and tourism economy growing while reducing its absolute carbon emissions.

Melissa Tilling, chief executive of UK-based operator Sustainable Journeys, called for more training and awareness about sustainability during the forum discussion.

Tine Murn, New Deal Europe’s co-founder and director, said there had been an “extremely positive reaction” to the event, while co-director Robert Dee added: “This event is now firmly embedded in the tourism calendar and we are already looking forward to next year’s event on March 25, 2025.”

Picture: Skanderbeg square, Tirana, Albania, by Andrii Lutsyk/Shutterstock.

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