Scream for Ukraine at the WTTC Member Taskforce Meeting
Ivan Liptuga is based in Odesa, Ukraine. He is the head of the National Tourism Organization of Ukraine. Ivan was awarded the title Tourism Hero by WTN. He was invited to speak at the WTTC Member Taskforce and laid out the current situation in Ukraine from the eyes of a Ukrainian travel and tourism leader.
The WTTC Member Taskforce on Wednesday, April 6 was moderated by Madrid-based Senior Vice President for WTTC membership, Maribel Rodriguez. Ivan Liptuga updated the WTTC task group and was invited by Lola Cardenas the Vice President of the London based World Travel and Tourism Council.
Ivan Liptuga is also a co-founder of the Scream for Ukraine campaign, also known as scream.travel.
Scream for Ukraine was put in place by the U.S. based World Tourism Network during a Zoom Q&A with SKAL Romania and the effort by that SKAL club to coordinate and help Ukrainian refugees after crossing the border from Ukraine to Romania.
Julia Simpson, President & CEO of WTTC was participating in the task force discussion. Also speaking at the event was Wayne Best, Chief Economist by VISA.
Ivan Liptuga told WTTC:
First of all, I would like to thank WTTC for the leadership of the tourism sector in defining key strategies and developing common approaches to creating the sustainable tourism of tomorrow.
Our organization (NTOU) follows all global initiatives and innovations of WTTC and tries to implement them immediately in Ukraine and introduce them to the cities and regions of our country.
In April 2020, Ukraine tourism stakeholders were among the first countries to implement protocols and the Safe Travels Stamp. In total, more than 500 Ukrainian companies had become participants of the program and 250 have shown best practices for implementing safety protocols related to the spread of COVID-19.
When in 2016 our tourism development department at the Ministry of Economy wrote a tourism strategy for the next 10 years, we put the issue of safety and security as the first item.
Only after that, we have developed a legal framework, infrastructure, and human resources, and announced a destination marketing plan.
The issue of security is critical for our sector. As soon as security disappears, all other items lose their meaning.
COVID-19 rolled the tourism sector back by 30 years. In March 2020, it seemed to us that everything that was happening was impossible.
It simply could not be, that the whole world could come to a stop in a couple of weeks. But as it turned out, everything is possible.
Even in our time, the era of high technologies and the global economy, the world can just stop in a single moment.
The COVID crisis has given us all invaluable experience and forced us to look at everything we have from a different angle. It showed us how fragile the issue of sustainable development is. And the tourism sector is essentially the flagship in terms of sensitivity to all changes related to safety and security.
Back on February 23, we lived a normal life in Ukraine and could not imagine that in a day our entire country would be subjected to missile strikes throughout our territory.
Despite the pressure in the media, we did not believe in the likelihood of this war. I will tell you that the fear of contracting a virus fades against the background of the roar of an exploding rocket, even a few kilometers from your home.
I think there is no need to retell you the situation on the battlefields today since in 2022 the war is taking place online and everyone can see everything for themselves.
Except for the Russians, of course. They see everything exactly the opposite. Their media continue to pour propaganda that in Ukraine the Nazis themselves kill their own inhabitants, and Russian troops liberate the civilian population from the Nazis.
Unfortunately, nonsense, which is hard for us to understand, has become almost a religion in Russian society.
The brutal medieval cruelty with which they capture our cities does not fit into the minds of healthy people.
North of Kyiv, the Russian military committed every type of crime possible – they killed, raped, tortured, and robbed the local civilian population. After that, the stolen teapots, blenders, washing machines, and other things were sent by courier mail from Belarus to Russia. It all seems like looking glass world.
With regard to our work this month, of course, tourism as such has stopped. But all of us, our colleagues from regional and local DMOs, tour operators, carriers, and hoteliers in all regions of Ukraine continue to work for a common victory.
The DMO model – 4C: communication, coordination, cooperation, and collaboration, which we have always used in our work, was able to quickly repurpose to perform tasks that are relevant for each destination, namely:
From promoting tourism, we started coordinating local businesses to provide food, provisions, medicines, equipment, and all necessary numerous territorial defense units, which are formed by ordinary citizens.
Fundraising, purchase, and preparation of products, purchase of medicines, and equipment, coordination of volunteers, provision of both internal and external logistics for the delivery of humanitarian goods.
Tour operating for refugees.
Assistance and organization of evacuation of civilians to quieter regions or other countries.
Communication with foreign partners to organize transport and help to provide accommodation for refugees in neighboring countries. Consultations on the current state of border crossing points.
Marketing communication channels are becoming channels for informing the whole world about what is happening. This is important to attract maximum attention, as well as to respond in the form of informational, economic, and social pressure on the aggressor.
To finalize my remarks I would like to say, that this war is not the war between Ukraine and Russia.
This is the war of democracy and autocracy, truth and lies, light and darkness, good and evil, eventually.
The democratic world must exclude forever the possibility that one person can have all the power.
Any person with unlimited uncontrolled power cannot stand it and at any moment this person may lose touch with reality.
Today, 8 billion people and every living being on the planet depend on one such a crazy person who sits in a nuclear bunker somewhere in the Ural Mountain.
He single-handedly controls 6,000 nuclear warheads, threatening the whole world to use them if someone tries to prevent him from destroying a neighboring country.
Apparently, this country, Ukraine, had simply irritated him for its democratic choice and lack of control from his side.
The question is not even in the political structure but in the security and stability of the whole world. Security should not depend on the human factor at all, because this is the most unstable thing that ever happens.
Today’s digital technologies, I believe, should be directed not primarily to different toys, but to the complete digitalization of democratic values and minimization of the human factor in matters of security and governance.
Ukraine definitely should win this war and then we will rebuild and rebrand our country as one of the strongest democratic states in the modern world. This country will be an attractive destination open for tourism, investments, and living.