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IPM hosts its second international leadership forum

The Institute of Place Management has long been recognised as a leading Professional Body that serves the needs of place leaders in town centres and High Streets across the UK. We reinforced our continuing relevance to all types of places, be they urban, rural, or coastal, all over the world. Led by director Professor Ares Kalandides, our 2nd Internationally focused webinar saw over 150 registered delegates joining us from 20 countries, to discuss how various local and national authorities are reacting to the pandemic and the longer term effects of COVID-19 for places with a particular focus on retail and tourism.

The discussion was opened by Dr Heather Skinner, Senior Fellow of the IPM and Chair of the IPM’s Visiting Places Special Interest Group who set the scene for the debate, talking about the worldwide drop in international visitation due to the pandemic. She left the discussion open by asking delegates to consider how they would prefer to envisage tourism in a post-pandemic world.

Next, George Kaparos talked about the issues facing hoteliers in Greece, in a time of great uncertainty, and when the hospitality industry in particular is facing probably much longer term changes than other sectors as they have to come to terms with new ways of working and keeping employees and guests safe, and managing various different quarantine arrangements for guests arriving from different source airports.

Elke Dens Marketing Director of Visit Flanders and Chairwoman of the European travel commission presented data showing the effects that COVID-19 has had on Belgium. Flanders has reacted to the pandemic with innovation hosting cycling tours of famous cobbled region, whilst physical tourism cannot take place. Elke went on to discuss possible scenarios as lockdown measure ease, with the hope of potentially welcoming tourism back to Flanders in the near future.

Laura López Puig focused on how retail consumption patterns had changed in the Barcelona region. While retail sales in the city centre mirror similar drops in cities around the world, some towns further away from the city centre itself had seen sales increase as people started shopping more locally due to lockdown measures.

Claire Albaret from AMCV was able to offer a unique perspective as someone who works in Belgium, but who has been isolating in France. Firstly Claire discussed her experience of lockdown restrictions as a citizen in France, with strict rules meaning people could only travel 1km from their homes. Claire discussed the challenges of adapting public space and changing consumer habits in Belgium, mentioning that local farmers have seen increased sales as people look to shop more locally. AMCV have been working with their partners to aid recovery in town centres in Belgium.

Dr Steve Millington from the IPM concluded the presentations, presenting a preview of the High Streets Task Force ‘Routemap to transformation’ designed to help places think about how best to manage the transition to from recovery to transformation.

Professor Kalandides then led a fascinating and lively Q&A session where the panel and delegates considered the issues raised, and how the world may look in a post-pandemic future. The more pessimistic members of the panel were concerned that the world may try to return to ‘business-as-usual’ as soon as possible especially where tourism in concerned; that business tourism may continue to be very hard hit as organisations have become used to more remote ways of working; that increased prices may lead to tourism becoming more elitist; and that tourism may be an easy target for those concerned with climate change. The more optimistic panel members believed that this current unprecedented crisis might well lead to new and innovative responses, particularly including forms of tactical urbanism, that will lead to improved places for those who love, work in, and visit them.

If you missed the 2nd International Leadership forum, please watch below:

The next international webinar will focus on our international ABCitEs project and will take place on 9th July, click here to register your interest


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Formed in 2006, the Institute of Place Management is the international professional body that supports people committed to developing, managing and making places better.

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