European Tourism Day 2017
 
Laurent Besozzi
Deputy Director - Attractiveness, International promotion and Innovation
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France

Laurent BESOZZI is a Senior territorial official. He assumes since September 2016 the position of Deputy Director in charge of attractiveness, international relations and innovation at the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. He previously held high responsibility positions within several territorial collectivities, such as the urban community of Draguignan and surrounding towns (16 municipalities, 100.000 inhabitants) or Roquevaire, located in South-East of France. He additionally teaches public finances, public law and management audit at the “Centre National de la Fonction Publique Territoriale”. He is graduated from the “Institut d’Etudes Politiques” of Aix-en-Provence, a top-level French School specialized in Political studies. He also exercises multiple associative responsibilities, such as regional delegate to the French association of “administrateurs territoriaux” (Senior territorial officials).
 
Elżbieta Bieńkowska
Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
European Commission

Elżbieta Bieńkowska - since 1 November 2014 - EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs in the European Commission of Jean-Claude Juncker. Between 2007 and 2013 she was the Minister for Regional Development of Poland and from 2013 to 2014, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Poland. As the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Infrastructure and Development she was in charge of the strategic development system of the country, including the effective investment of the European funds. Her work resulted in the full absorption of the EU funds from the budget for 2004-2006 and the successful distribution of almost EUR 68 billion granted to Poland for the years 2007-2013. She was managing the process of the preparation of the efficient EU funds implementation system from the EU budget for the years 2014-2020. Apart from the European funds her tasks in the Polish Government included also the management of transport infrastructure (roads, railway, air traffic and ship transport) and issues related to construction and housing. Before from 1999 to 2007 she was working for the local government of the Silesia Region in Southern Poland. A graduate of the Jagiellonian University. She also graduated from the Polish National School of Public Administration and completed the business administration post graduate studies at the Warsaw School of Economics. Married, with three children.
 
Andrea Colantonio
Senior Urban Development Specialist
European Investment Bank

Andrea is a senior economist at the European Investment Bank, responsible for the financing of urban and regional development projects and tourism operations. Prior to this, Andrea was at the London School of Economics, leading projects for major European cities on integrated urban development and institutional governance, sustainability policy, planning and evaluation methods. He holds a PhD in Economic Geography and is the main author of Transforming Urban Economies: Policy Lessons from European and Asian Cities (2013); Urban Regeneration and Social Sustainability: Best Practice from European Cities (2010); and Urban Tourism and Development in the Socialist State: Havana during the Special Period (2006).
 
Michel de Blust
Secretary-General
ECTAA, European Travel Agents and Tour Operators' Association

After completing a Master in Economics in 1979 and a Post graduate diploma in Transport Law in 1981, Michel de Blust started his professional career with the “Compagnie des Wagons-Lits”. He held various positions with the rail- and maritime divisions, as well as the travel agency network. End of 1989, he joined ECTAA as permanent Secretary General and represented ECTAA in a number of Committees and other consultative bodies with the European Institutions. In 1995, he was co-founder of NET – Network of European Private Sector in Tourism which is a coalition of major European Trade associations representing the European Tourism Industry. In 2005 he was co-founder of WTAAA (World travel Agents Associations’ Alliance. He is member of the Board and Secretary of WTAAA since 2006.
 
Lowri Evans
Director-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
European Commission

Lowri Evans was appointed Director-General of DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs on 1 September 2015. She has been Director-General in DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries from 2010 to 2015. Prior to that, she has worked in several policy areas in the European Commission notably Competition and Employment. She started her professional career in audit and accountancy with Deloitte.
 
Irena Georgieva
Deputy Minister
Ministry for Tourism, Bulgaria

Irena Georgieva is a graduate of the Sociology Department of the Sofia University “St. St. Kliment Ohridsky” and has been awarded a golden medal for academic excellence and active public engagement by the university. Almost her entire professional career has been closely linked to tourism. She has extensive managerial experience of almost 25 years in the sector as manager of tourist agencies. She has gained multiple tourism-related certificates which testify to her extensive expertise in the field of tourism. Since 2006 to her appointment as Deputy Minister of Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria she has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Bulgarian Tour Operators and Travel Agents (ABTTA) and from 2009 until 2013 she has been chair of the Board of Directors of the association. Irena Georgieva is an acknowledged international tourism expert whose experience is highly valued by her colleagues abroad. From 2009 till her appointment as Deputy Minister of Tourism she has been a member of the Board of Directors of the European Travel Agents & Tour Operators Associations (ECTAA) and she has been both director and deputy director of the organization. She has also been president of ECTAA from 2010 till 2012.
 
Salvatore Patrizio Giannone
Regional Director for Tourism
Puglia Region, Italy

Salvatore Patrizio Giannone was born on 5th August 1964. Since 2012 he has been helding executive positions at Apulia Region, passing through different regional roles. First as Director of Energy and Energy Networks and subsequently of the Renewable Energy and Networks Bureau. In 2013, he was appointed the Contact person of the Department for Implementation process regarding the adoption procedures for "Three-year Plan for Prevention of Corruption". In 2016, he was appointed Chairman of the Provincial Commission for Public Residential Building established in Lecce. Currently, he is the Director of Tourism Area at Apulia Region. Since 2016 he has also been appointed as Interim role Director of Tourist Infrastructure Office and until March 2017 he had both the Interim as Director of Tourist Promotion as well as of MICE Offices. Having a pragmatic, direct and energetic approach, he believes in the importance of listening and he is available for dialog and shared reflection, considered as a point of strength and growth.
 
Gloria Guevara Manzo
President & CEO
World Travel and Tourism Council

Gloria joined WTTC in August 2017, following a varied career in Travel & Tourism. Recognised as one of the most influential women in Mexico by CNN and Expansion, Gloria began her professional career in 1989 at NCR Corporation working in the Latin America, Middle East, and Africa regions. She holds a BS in Computer Science from Anahuac University and MBA from Kellogg School of Business, Northwestern University. Since 1995 she has worked for the travel industry, starting at the Sabre Travel Network and Sabre Holdings, she was later CEO of JV Sabre Mexico reporting to a board of directors from Aeromexico, Mexicana, and Sabre. In March 2010 President Calderon appointed her as Minister of Tourism and two weeks after she was given in addition the full responsibility of the Mexican Tourism Board. Under her leadership the “National Agreement for Tourism” in Mexico was created and signed on 28 February 2011. Gloria received the Good Neighbour Award from the US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce and Virtuoso awarded Mexico the best tourism board in the world due to her successful branding and repositioning efforts. In addition, Gloria has been Special Advisor on Government Affairs to Harvard University, and part of the Future for Travel, Tourism and Aviation Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
 
Jean-Pierre Halkin
Head of Unit, Macro-regions, Transnational / Interregional Cooperation, IPA, Enlargement
DG REGIO - European Commission

Since January 1, 2017, Jean-Pierre Halkin is working in DG Regio as Head of the Competence Centre for "Macro-regions, Transnational/Interregional Cooperation, IPA, Enlargement. The Competence Centre provides support to DG Regio for 'Territorial Cooperation" questions and manages also the corresponding programmes.
Prior to this, Jean-Pierre Halkin worked mostly in the "External Relations family" of the European Commission where he was notably in charge of the following Units : "Rural Development, Food Security and Nutrition", "Natural Resources" and a "Climate Change, Environment and Biodiversity" and of a Task Force supporting "Fight against drugs and money laundering".
Jean-Pierre was posted in Côte d'Ivoire and the Liberia.
 
Raquel Huete
Director-General
Tourism at the Valencia Region Government

Raquel Huete-Nieves is the General Director for Tourism at the Valencia Region Government since January 2016. She is a Senior lecturer in Tourism Studies at the University of Alicante (Spain). She holds a PhD in Sociology and a BA in Tourism Management. She is a researcher at the University Institute for Tourism Research at UA. Prior to teaching at the university she worked as a travel agent and tourist guide and also she held several positions related to High Education Management.
 
Christoph Klenner
Secretary-General
ETTSA

Christoph Klenner is the Secretary General of the European Technology & Travel Services Association (ETTSA), which groups global distribution systems (GDSs) and major online travel companies. Christoph represents the interests of ETTSA and its members vis-a-vis European policy makers, industry stakeholders, consumer groups and the media. Previously, Christoph was a partner at The Prisma Consulting Group, Brussels/Geneva. He advised, amongst others, Apax Partners, Boeing Co., the British Business and General Aviation Assocation, Expedia.com, Japan Air Lines, P&O / DP World, and SITA. A graduate of the University of Maastricht and Budapest University, Christoph is based in Brussels, Belgium. He is a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the European Aviation Club. He is also a regular speaker at travel industry events in Europe and beyond.
 
Susanne Kraus-Winkler
President
HOTREC

President of HOTREC since 1 January 2015, Susanne Kraus-Winkler, has been a Member of HOTREC Executive Committee since 2004 and Vice-President since 2010. She is a longstanding industry representative as well as entrepreneur in the Hospitality Industry with 35 years of practical experience in the hotel and restaurant business as well as in tourism consulting and academic lecturing.
Ms. Kraus Winkler is a founding partner of the LOISIUM Wine & Spa Resort Hotel Group and a shareholder of several hotel management and tourism consulting companies such as Harry’s Home Hotel group, RIMC Austria GmbH Vienna and Advisory board member of MRP-Hotels. Ms. Kraus Winkler holds several positions in the management board of tourism representations in Austria and at EU level and is member of the Austrian chapter of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, as well as member of several official working groups and committees in the Austrian tourism industry.
 
Xavier Lechien
President
EDEN Network Association

Xavier Lechien was born in Rwanda and lived many years in Africa. He has a master of Psychology and is a professional coach for human development. He is currently the President of Eden Network AISBL and he's the Director of the Local Development Agency in Durbuy (BE), first tourism destination of Wallonia. His main work is to support local producers to be more visible in the local gastronomy.
 
Viljar Lubi
Secretary-General
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication, Estonia

After receiving his first degree in economics (honors) from the University of Tartu, Estonia, he acquired his masters degree in political science from the University of Tallinn, Estonia. He has also complemented his academic background at the University of Sussex, UK, and at the Estonian School of Diplomacy. His current position is the deputy secretary general for economic development in Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. Deputy Secretary General for Economic Development work's aim is to contribute to the shaping of economic environment which supports new and sustainable business ideas' growth, raises the position of Estonian enterprises in the International value chain and is attractive to foreign investments and raises Estonia's export capability.
 
Ossi Martikainen
Chair
NAT Commission of the European Committee of the Regions

Local councillor Ossi Martikainen (FI/ALDE) from Lapinlahti in eastern Finland is the chair of the European Committee of the Regions’ Commission for Natural Resources (NAT). The NAT Commission is responsible, among other policy portfolios, for tourism.
Ossi Martikainen has been a member of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) since 2004. He has drawn up important opinions, including those on reducing food waste and EU food aid for the most deprived. Martikainen also represents the CoR in the European Commission’s platform on reducing and preventing food waste in Europe.
Ossi Martikainen holds a master degree in social education.
 
Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar
Member of the European Parliament's Transport and Tourism Committee, Chair of the Working Group on Tourism in SME Europe
European Parliament
Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar has been a Member of the European Parliament since July 2014, where she is a Member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the Committee on Fisheries. Its work in favor of the development of the EU Tourism Policy was recognized, being awarded MEP of the year 2016 for the Tourism category. In May 2016 Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar created the European Tourism Working Group, inside the SME Europe organization, assuming its presidency.

She was a Member of the Portuguese National Assembly, Member of the Commissions of Economy and Public Works and European Affairs. Her professional career passes through Marketing and Communication consulting in the hospitality group Portobay.

Graduated in Sociology from the University of Minho and postgraduate in Marketing and Communication from the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar studied at the Madeira Conservatory of Music and until 2014 was part of the Bandolins Orchestra of Madeira, assuming his passion for music and the arts.
 
Arnold Pindar
President
ANEC, The European Consumer Voice in Standardisation

Arnold Pindar, President of ANEC – the European Consumer Voice in Standardisation, and Chairman of the UK National Consumer Federation. He trained as an analytical chemist and worked for many years at the UK’s Department of Trade & Industry, much of this time dealing with consumer safety. He has represented the UK at European Council and Commission Working Parties developing safety related harmonization Directives, and has been a member of many British and European (CEN) and international (ISO) Standards Technical Committees. He joined the British Standards Institution in 1996 as Head of Consumer & Societal Policy (retired 2006).
He has a leading role in consumer activities, related to standardisation, in Europe. He is also currently co-chair of the ISO/COPOLCO (the International Organisation for Standardisation’s, Committee on Consumer Policy) Working Group on Services and has represented consumers on a number of technical committees developing standards for services, including tourism, leisure diving and contingency (emergency) planning.
 
Thomas Reynaert
Managing Director
Airlines for Europe

Since March 2016, Thomas Reynaert is Managing Director of Airlines for Europe (A4E), Europe's largest EU airline association which was launched in January 2016. Prior to joining A4E, as President of the United Technologies (UTC) International Operations (Europe) he led the government relations activities for Europe on behalf of UTC during 2008–2015. He was responsible for providing counsel to the corporation and its business units on EU rulemaking and policy, as well as articulating the company's point of view and business interests to decision makers in the EU institutions and national governments. Prior to joining UTC, Thomas led the government relations and regulatory affairs team for Nortel Networks in EMEA, beginning in 2000. Before that, he was director of EU public affairs for Lucent Technologies. Earlier positions include business development manager at the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and external relations consultant at the European Commission.
 
Taleb Rifai
Secretary-General
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Taleb Rifai is Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) since January 2010. Mr. Rifai has an extensive background in international and national public service, the private sector and academia. He was Assistant Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), held several ministerial portfolios in Jordan (Planning and International Cooperation, Information and Tourism and Antiquities), CEO of Jordan’s Cement Company, Director of the Economic Mission to Washington and Director General of the Investment Promotion Corporation of Jordan. Mr. Rifai has a Ph.D. in Urban Design and Regional Planning (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia), an M.A. in Engineering and Architecture (Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago), and a BS.c. in Architectural Engineering (University of Cairo in Egypt).
 
Patrick Robinson
Director of Public Policy, EMEA
Airbnb

Patrick Robinson is Head of Public Policy for Airbnb in EMEA and Canada. Based in London, he leads a team of public affairs professionals who work with cities to open the door for new forms of tourism and educate policymakers about the huge potential of the “sharing economy” for sustainable economic and cultural growth. Patrick joined Airbnb after several years at Yahoo, most recently as Director of the company’s innovative global business and human rights programme, which leads the company’s efforts to protect and promote online free expression and privacy for its 800 million users worldwide. He has previously had senior roles with the Virgin Group’s UK television business and the British Broadcasting Corporation, including two-and-a-half years living and working in Sarajevo on a project to establish public service broadcasting in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina.
 
Giovanni Ruggieri
President
Observatory on Tourism in the European Islands - OTIE

Giovanni Ruggieri (1970) is Researcher and Adjunct Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Palermo, Visiting Professor at Malaga University, Lecturer in Wien, Leads, Pecs and Coordinator of the International Master Degree “Hospitality Management and Food & Beverage” in collaboration with the Florida International University. He is the author of several articles published in international scientific journals and concerning the economic impact issues, the birth and development of tourist destinations and the growth of tourism economies in the island territories. He is President of the Observatory on Tourism in the European Islands (OTIE), of which he chairs the Scientific Committee. Research topics, with particular attention to island realities, concern: the tourism economy, innovation, micro enterprises, networks and aggregation of enterprises, tourist districts and destinations, tourism in fragile regions. He is inserted in the list of experts on tourism of the Italian Prime Minister's Office and cooperates with the UNESCO Foundation.
 
Eduardo Santander
Executive Director
European Travel Commission

Multilingual executive. Educated in Spain, USA and Austria Mr. Santander holds a PhD and a MBA degree. He has broad experience in tourism marketing, advocacy and public affairs gained in diverse private companies and public institutions from the tourism and hospitality sector. He is also guest lecturer on tourism marketing at international business seminars in a number of US and European Universities. He's a frequent speaker in Tourism, Hospitality Industry and Destination Marketing forums and a passionate panellist.
 
Ana Claudia Țapardel
Member of the European Parliament's Transport and Tourism Committee, Chair of the EP Inter-Group on Tourism
European Parliament

Claudia Tapardel is a Romanian Member of the European Parliament in the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). She is a member in the Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism and Committee of Constitutional Affairs. In 2015, she has been elected to Co-Chair the Intergroup on European Tourism Development that represents 140 members. Holding the belief that a consistent and sustainable approach to the promotion of tourism within the European Union leads to strengthening the European economy, her work in the European Parliament is focused on bringing tourism into the spotlight of European policies.
 
Sławomir Tokarski
Director
DG GROW, Dir. F

Slawomir Tokarski obtained PhD degree at the European University Institute in Florence in 1995. He joined the Polish administration and headed a team co-ordinating the preparations for the accession negotiations and preparing policy analysis for the Chief Negotiator. In 2004 he joined the Commission as a Cabinet member of the Commissioner responsible for the regional policy. In 2009 he was nominated Head of Unit dealing with economic policy and co-ordination of EU funding in DG MARE. In March 2012 he became Head of Defence, Aeronautics and Maritime industries in DG Enterprise. Since February 2016 Mr Tokarski became Director, Dir F "Innovation and Advanced manufacturing" (DG GROW).
 
Patrick Torrent
President
NECSTouR – S3 Tourism Cooperation Platform

Patrick Torrent is graduated in Industrial Psychology for the Organizations by the University of Barcelona and Bachelor in Law by the UNED, he has formation in Marketing Management from ESADE, and in Systems Management Information by Master Associates From 2005 to 2009 he was the General Deputy Director of the Consortium Turisme de Catalunya and Deputy Director of the Catalan Tourist Board form 2010, when it was created to 2013. Currently he is the Executive Director of the Catalan Tourist Board. He was appointed Secretary of the Open University of Catalonia Foundation in 2010 and Patron from 2009 to 2011. He has been Associate Teacher at different universities and speaker and organizer of several symposiums, seminars, workshops and forums focused on tourism and its marketing. On 22 October 2015 he was appointed President of NECSstouR based in Brussels, gathering 32 Tourism Regional Authorities associated and 37 associate organizations).
 
George Tziallas
Secretary-General
Tourism Policy and Development, Ministry of Tourism, Greece

George Tziallas is a Civil Engineer (University of Patras, Greece) with a Master's Degree in Urban and Regional Planning (M.Sc.) from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, USA.
He has a twenty-five year professional experience in management consulting, in local and regional development, tourism development and planning, strategic/operational planning and business process re-engineering, as well as in the management and evaluation of EU Programmes and projects in Greece and abroad.
George has worked in senior positions in management consulting firms for more than twenty years, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Association of Management Consulting Firms (SESMA).
He has been the project manager of large-scale technical assistance projects at national and EU level and has excellent knowledge of the Greek public administration procedures, as well as of the EU Structural Funds context.
 
Istvan Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament, Vice-Chair of the Transport and Tourism Committee
European Parliament, Transport and Tourism Committee

Dr. István Ujhelyi is a Member of the European Parliament, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and responsible for the Task Force on Tourism. Previously, he was Vice-Chair and Member of the National Presidium of the Hungarian Socialist Party. After the 2010 national election he was elected to the National Assembly of Hungary and nominated as one of the deputy speakers of the National Assembly of Hungary. He graduated with a law degree from the József Attila University, Hungary.
 
Ben Weyts
Flemish Minister for Mobility, Public Works, the Vlaamse Rand, Tourism and Animal Welfare

Ben Weyts (born Leuven, 21 November 1970) is a Flemish Nationalist politician from Beersel in the province of Flemish Brabant. Currently, he is the Flemish Minister for Mobility, Public Works, the Vlaamse Rand, Tourism and Animal Welfare. He first became known to the general public as a Member of the federal Parliament (2008-2014), but also has wide experience at Flemish policy level. For several years (2004-2008) he was spokesman and deputy head of the Minister’s Office of Geert Bourgeois, who was then Flemish Minister for Public Governance, Foreign Policy, Media and Tourism. Prior to that, Mr. Weyts was actively involved in politics, among other things as a university staff member and spokesman for the Volksunie (People’s Union) and the N-VA (New Flemish Alliance). In the course of his varied political career, Ben Weyts has built a strong reputation as a passionate worker who gets his teeth firmly into dossiers. The Minister is married and has a son and a daughter.