AETTA traces its history back to 1992, when several industry participants met at a conference in Milan organised by the World Tourism Organisation operating under the aegis of the United Nations. It was then decided to create an independent association specifically embracing travel and tourism agencies and focusing on influencing the decision-making process in the travel and tourism regulation in the European Community. The first office was established in Madrid.
In a little over a decade by 2003 AETTA already counted over 300 members representing 21 European countries. By then the members of AETTA had established three research groups dedicated to identifying and studyig best European practice in the areas of travel safety & security, competition and environment. The idea was to develop standards and recommendations in these areas to further spread them among the AETTA members and work with the European, national and regional governments and legislators to promote such standards and incorporate them in the respective legislation and regulatons.
In the following year AETTA recognised the trend for the globalisation of the travel and tourism sector in Europe and started accepting members from outside of the European Union. This important move srengthened our financial possibilities and two further research groups dedicated to travel and tourism infrastructure and transport were established in 2007 and 2009 respectively.
As the European Community pressed forward for the promotion of an orderly development of travel and tourism industries in Europe, the Board of the Association decided to support this action and determined that AETTA should strengthen its focus on lobbying the collective interests of its members. As part of this move, in 2008 the permanent office of AETTA was transferred to Brussels.
Today the AETTA brings under one roof over one thousand travel and tourism agencies working in Europe or serving European destinations. All European countries are represented at AETTA and almost 35% of the members come from non-European countries. Each year members of the Association collectively serve 8.5 million clients, generate a total turnover of some EUR 4.7 billion and employ directly 22 000 people.