Key Topic Group: Non-Financial Offerings in times of COVID-19 and post-crisis: Summary of its January Call


January 22th, 2021

The tourism sector has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed on local and global travel to contain the spread of the virus. Most of the state responses delivered by development banks focused on immediate support to the sector, but as the crisis advances, these institutions have been pivoting their focus into recovery and rebuilding measures to reimagine the tourism sector for the future (OECD, 2020). 

According to Kukanja et al. (2020) tourism SMEs are generally highly adaptable; but in a crisis state, including the one caused by the pandemic, support from federal and local institutions is a must for them to adapt and survive. 

With these insights in mind, The Montreal Group’s Secretariat, with the help of one of its members, Hanna Alalääkkölä, representative of Finnvera, invited Sanna Kärkkäinen, CEO of Visit Rovaniemi, a Finnish destination marketing company. Ms Kärkkäinen was the guest to the January 2021 videoconference of the Non-Financial Offerings in times of COVID-19 and post-crisis Key Topic Group. This e-meeting was hosted by Mabel González and Maritere Hernández and joined by the members of this group from all over the world: Marie Depelssemaker (SOWALFIN), Anita Bezeau (BDC), Abdelmoughite Abdelmoumen (CCG), Alexandre Guillo, Isabelle Lébo & Romain Stanke (Bpifrance)and Natalia Santoyo (NAFIN).

The meeting kicked-off with the presentation of Visit Rovaniemi’s non-financial support to tourism operators, suppliers and small businesses in the Finnish northern region of Lapland. Ms Kärkkäinen shared the main figures and impacts of the COVID-19 in the tourism sector of the region: including the workforce and revenue loss of the 2020 year. Then, Ms Kärkkäinen presented the “rebirth, reinvent, reskill, reboost and redefine strategy” carried out by Visit Rovaniemi. Finally, her intervention focused on the lessons learnt and the way forward to redefining the future of Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs). During the Q&A period, members of the Key Topic Group inquired about how the visiting organization measured the impact of their interventions and the prospects of small businesses-consolidations in Rovaniemi. 

After the insightful presentation, on a closed-session, members were invited to share an update on the non-financial interventions of their banks. Surprisingly, half of the participants claimed to have noticed an increase in the demand of “for-fee” or paid advisory and business support services offered by their institutions. This unexpected fact will for sure remain in our radar, and any possible explanations found by the Key Topic Group will most likely be addressed in future summaries. Stay tuned!

Sources:

“Tourism Policy Responses to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).” OECD, www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/tourism-policy-responses-to-the-coronavirus-covid-19-6466aa20/. 

Kukanja, Marko, et al. “Crisis Management Practices in Tourism SMEs During the Covid-19 Pandemic.” Organizacija, vol. 53, no. 4, 2020, pp. 346–361., doi:10.2478/orga-2020-0023. 


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