Tourism industry professionals, 40 members of the European Parliament and over 70 members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) are urging the European Commission to adopt a comprehensive European tourism strategy.
In an open letter addressed to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, all parties underline the significance of the tourism industry for the EU economy and society and specifically ask for a European tourism strategy to be included in the European Commission Work Programme 2018, thus update the last communication issued in 2010.
“In view of the European elections in 2019, it is important to raise awareness of the benefits the EU has created, especially as regards the citizens’ rights and travel,” the authors of the letter underline.
In the letter it is stressed that the tourism sector is confronted with massive challenges such as a growing investment gap; burdensome bureaucracy for SMEs; the need to align the sector with the energy and climate targets; digitilization, security and marketing issues related to terrorism and fierce competition from new non-European markets. “Political action at a European level is needed to secure Europe’s position as the world’s leading tourist destination, while continuing to create jobs and sustainable growth.”
Particularly noted is the need to considerably strengthen the millions of SMEs in the tourism sector. “This means providing them with less burdensome regulatory investment prospects (cutting red tape), sufficient funding opportunities, developing further the digital single market and improving sustainability and security in the tourism sector.”
A European tourism strategy would allow the Commission to address tourism-related challenges and present a multi-annual work program with clear goals, indicators and measures for tourism. It would also provide guidelines for member states, regions, local authorities and the private sector in developing their tourism strategies.
The Commission in June abolished mobile roaming charges across the EU allowing travellers to “roam like at home” in all of the Union’s 28 countries. “Europe needs more initiatives like this,” it is noted in the letter.
Tourism is the third biggest industry in the EU and an engine for sustainable growth and jobs – generating 10 percent of the EU’s GDP and providing employment for up to 15 percent of the EU’s population, mostly in millions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).