Unless Europe is competitive in terms of tax and regulatory regime, destination appeal, perceptions of value and visa facilitation, its tourism growth will continue to lose out, according to NET, the Network for the European Private Sector in Tourism, which regroups 7 associations representing different actors in the tourism value chain.
Tourism is a key contributor to Europe’s competitiveness and one of the key sectors to further contribute to economic growth and job creation, a priority of the head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.
A NET delegation comprising high level representatives from the European private sector in tourism recently met with EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska to discuss the main challenges and opportunities within the tourism sector.
During the meeting, NET called for policies that foster the competitiveness of the European tourism industry.
More specifically, discussions focused on NET suggestions on how to unlock the full potential of tourism to foster innovation, create jobs and stimulate economic growth.
The Commissioner’s support was sought for continuing to raise awareness of and support the adoption of a smart Schengen visa policy to facilitate legitimate travelers from important tourism source markets, such as China, India and Russia.
The European private sector tourism professionals called for the simplification and streamlining of the regulatory framework for tourism, in particular as regards taxation.
“Avoid proliferation of taxes at various levels, which render Europe excessively costly and uncompetitive”, NET underlined.
NET also called for the adoption of a well-functioning Single Market, with special focus on the Digital Single Market and for the upgrading skills and competences across the tourism sector in order to enhance the competitiveness of companies and keep on creating jobs.
“NET would like to ensure that tourism remains one of the priorities of the Commission”, Michel de Blust, Secretary General of ECTAA, said in an announcement.
“The issues discussed demonstrate that if Europe’s tourism is to remain competitive, an integrated policy approach is required, covering a wide spectrum of European policy areas such as Internal Market, taxation, home affairs, employment, consumer protection, competition, etc.”
Tourism is Europe’s third socio-economic activity which is mainly composed of small and medium-size enterprises 91 percent of which are microenterprises. Tourism accounts for 9 percent of the EU GDP and employs 10 percent of the total EU workforce. This translates to 13 million jobs, according to Eurostat.
The representative organizations of all major sub sectors of the tourism industry in Europe are represented in NET, notably CLIA (cruise lines), ECTAA (travel agents and tour operators), EFCO&HPA (camp sites, holiday parks and holiday villages), ETOA (inbound tourism), HOTREC (hotels, restaurants and cafes), IAAPA (amusement parks and attractions) and the IRU (bus, coach and taxi operators).