Tourism is an important driver of economic growth and job creation, the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, underlined at ECTAA’s 111th General Assembly held in Montenegro in late May. ECTAA is the Group of national travel agents’ and tour operators’ associations within the EU.
Tourism is the third largest socio-economic activity in the EU. It accounts for 9 percent of the EU GDP and employs 10 percent of the total workforce, providing 12 million jobs.
While tourism has shown a robust and resilient performance over the last decade, Commissioner Bieńkowska stressed the challenges facing our industry.
She referred among other to the changing consumer expectations and behaviour and the need for the industry to respond to these changes by adapting the offers to the new customers, becoming more digital and upskilling the workforce.
Eight priorities for the future European strategy
In order to ensure that Europe retains its position of number one destination in terms of international tourist arrivals and support the development of a competitive and sustainable tourism industry, Commissioner Bieńkowska set out her eight priorities for the future European strategy. These priorities include:
– Streamlining the regulatory and administrative framework impacting tourism;
– Digitalization of tourism SMEs – building on the Digital Single Market initiative;
– Upgrading skills and competences across the tourism sector;
– Promoting sustainable tourism, among other through the adoption of a European Charter for Sustainable and Responsible Tourism;
– Promoting tourism in the low and medium seasons, in particular for senior and young tourists;
– Improvement of ‘intermodality’ and transport connectivity.
– Joint promotion of Europe as a tourist destination.
– Improvement of the governance structure, both within the EU institutions and within the industry.
ECTAA applauds EU’s strategy on tourism
ECTAA Members welcomed the Commission’s strategy on tourism. “In ECTAA’s views it is important to create the right framework conditions to allow the tourism industry to grow and contribute to the Commission’s priority of creating more jobs and growth opportunities”, an announcement read.
According to ECTAA, the proposed tourism strategy will help in that sense, but other policy changes are needed, such as a simpler visa policy for travellers from important tourism source markets, a better coordination of tax policies to avoid overtaxing our tourism products and services, a balanced approach to consumer protection, etc.
“We are very pleased to hear that tourism will continue to enjoy high priority with Commissioner Bieńkowska and ECTAA pledges its support to implementing a tourism strategy that will support the competitiveness and sustainability of this thriving industry”, ECTAA added.