Interpret Europe Web Conference | 1-4 October 2021 | #iecon21

Keynote speakers

Every conference day will be opened by a keynote address. Our keynote speakers are:



Gianna Moscardo is a Professor in the College of Business Law and Governance at James Cook University teaching in tourism futures and destination management.  Her research interests include sustainable regional tourism development, destination community wellbeing, visitor experience design and effective guest communication, mostly through interpretation.  Her most recent work has been on using stories for tourist experience design and for improving tourism sustainability.  Gianna is the current Chair of the Building Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Education Network (BEST EN), an international organisation committed to the creation and dissemination of knowledge to support sustainable tourism education, research and practice. 
Stories are an essential part of being human. The stories we tell ourselves and others, the stories we live and the stories we are told are critical to how we learn about, understand and act in the world.  Until recently the stories that tourism researchers and practitioners have told themselves about who they are and what they do have focused on how to make tourism work for international tourists and larger tourism businesses. In these tourism stories interpreters, at best, offer a supporting service. The stories that interpreters have told themselves about what they do have focused on preserving and making heritage live.  In these interpreter stories tourists, at best, are a welcome market that can support interpretive goals.  But sustainability pressures, before, during and beyond COVID 19, mean we need new stories about what tourism and interpretation could be and we need to engage tourists and residents alike in more sustainability stories. This presentation will argue no one is better placed to tell sustainability stories than interpreters. It will provide some ideas to make interpretation a critical component in tourism that makes positive contributions to both destination wellbeing and the world as a whole.



Iulia Niculica is a Funding, Procurement and Development Manager at the European Travel Commission (ETC), contributing to the promotion of Europe as a tourist destination in long-haul markets. She has experience with advocacy and marketing projects, EU funding, managing relationships with National Tourism Organisations, as well as facilitating partnerships and affiliations with external organisations. She is also holding the Secretariat of the European Tourism Manifesto, an alliance bringing together more than 60 public and private organisations from the Travel & Tourism sector.
At the core of ETC’s strategy are the stimulation of competitiveness and the promotion of sustainable growth of the European tourism sector. After a long period in which sustainable or responsible tourism was largely perceived as a form of tourism, sustainability practices are steadily becoming widespread. Destinations are increasingly developing strategies and actions in order to protect the assets on which they depend to attract visitors and build a successful industry for the long-term. The pandemic has left tourism in Europe facing a crisis like no other. However, such difficult times also brought an opportunity for change, for a new beginning in tourism across Europe. We shall use this opportunity to create a more resilient and sustainable destination Europe in the future, which is better for our communities and our visitors and all those providing tourism and travel services. Now sustainability is not a choice anymore, but the way forward. During the event, Iulia will introduce you to ETC’s latest research on sustainable tourism practices, offering the audience a snapshot of demand-driven and supply-driven sustainability trends in tourism.


BenBen Lynam is Head of Strategic Communications at the Travel Foundation, a sustainable tourism charity based in the UK, which works with businesses and destinations across the globe to improve tourism’s impacts. He has been at the Travel Foundation for nearly 9 years and has been involved in projects such as developing the influential “Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism” report in 2019 and setting up the Future of Tourism Coalition in 2020.
As international tourism returns, the focus is increasingly on developing authentic, local experiences that create true value for communities. But what does that look like in practice? The Travel Foundation has been working with companies and destination authorities to clarify what terms like “authentic” and “local” actually mean for the visitor economy, and what “value” means for residents, and how to achieve this in the context of “building back better”. Ben will also introduce the concept of the “invisible burden” of tourism, and relate this to both tangible and intangible culture and heritage assets, and outline the opportunities this brings for innovative businesses and destinations.


Dr. Albert SalmanAlbert Salman is a sustainable tourism expert from the Netherlands, with an academic background in coastal ecology and environment. After a career in European coastal & marine conservation and management, during which Albert established the QualityCoast Awards program (2007), he founded Green Destinations (2014), a non-profit organisation supporting destination managers in 60 countries. In 2014 he also initiated the Sustainable Destinations Top 100 competition and the Top 100 Sustainability Stories Awards at ITB Berlin, the world’s leading travel trade show. In 2020 Albert initiated a business sustainability program including a unique transparent certification (Good Travel Seal) and the Good Travel Guide, the first travel website only featuring independently checked sustainable travel offers. 
Green Destinations is supporting tourism destinations and travel-related businesses and a global leader in tourism certification. But more interestingly for this event, Green Destinations is first and foremost focusing on making sustainability certification transparent and understandable for all stakeholders, since certification can also be a tool for greenwashing. Albert will introduce “destination sustainability interpretation” as an important concept and show some of the tools he has developed for it.
Dr Albert Salman will also discuss why there are considerable differences in the resilience of tourism destinations facing the pandemic. Other interesting points are the impact of COVID-19 on sustainable travel trends as well as the way forward for destinations in view of current expectations on the future of tourism in Europe.