“If we want to attract more international tourists, we must join forces to promote Europe as a destination.”
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Wednesday, World Tourism Day, called for the closer cooperation of Member States in order for Europe to receive more than one billion tourists by 2025.
Speaking during a high-level conference in Brussels hosted by the European Parliament and themed “A European strategy to enhance the competitiveness of the tourism industry”, Tajani underlined that tourism is a key sector for all Member States, accounting for 10 percent of GDP and jobs in the European Union.
“It is an industry in its own right, an essential part of the mosaic which makes up Europe’s industrial fabric,” he said.
According to Tajani, over the next 10 years, the number of international tourists is set to double, thanks to the emergence of a new middle class, with high spending power, coming mainly from Asia. Between 2017 and 2025, the number of tourists coming to Europe may double as well — to more than one billion — creating more than 5 million new jobs.
“If we want to make this possibility a reality, we must enhance our ability to hold our own in an ever more competitive global environment, in part by cooperating more closely at European level,” he said.
With a view to promoting Europe as a destination to international markets, Tajani said that efforts need to focus in a number of areas:
– attracting more investment, by means of a strategic plan which enables Member States to make greater and more effective use of EU funding
– improving the business environment
– promoting training commensurate with the needs of the industry
– governing the digital revolution
– exploiting synergies
Tajani added that training is a key factor, given that firms in the tourism industry have more problems than others in finding people with the skills they are looking for.
“We must also complete the single market in services and the single digital market, with a view to enforcing competition rules and ensuring that digital platforms operate under the same conditions and the same tax arrangements as all other firms,” he said.
“On average, a Chinese tourist visits four or five European Member States. The focus of competition is not between Member States, but with Asia, America, the Caribbean and the Pacific. If we want to attract more international tourists, therefore, we must join forces to promote Europe as a destination, in the same way as the USA, Canada or Australia promote themselves,” the President of the European Parliament said.
Tajani underlined that the Joint Promotion Platform proposed by the Commission, in cooperation with the European Travel Commission and the regions in the Necstour network, is “a step in the right direction”, but efforts must step up even further, by giving the Platform a proper budget.
“The next EU budget should be more overtly political and reflect the concerns of ordinary people, such as the need to combat unemployment. In its own-initiative resolution adopted on the basis of the De Monte report, the European Parliament is calling for the next budget to incorporate a specific fund for tourism,” he said.
The “A European strategy to enhance the competitiveness of the tourism industry” event was part of a series of initiatives promoted by Tajani to raise the profile of “The Citizens’ Parliament”.