September 27 was World Tourism Day and the European Parliament marked the occasion with a call for a “European quality tourism label” and efforts to promote Europe as the world’s top tourism destination.
Tourism accounts for 10% of GDP and 12% of total employment in the EU, much of it generated by EU citizens, and the report by Italian EPP member Carlo Fidanza on Tourism in Europe calls on the EU to promote quality tourism as a way to create local jobs. It calls for EU subsidies to help rehabilitate declining areas, innovate and roll out high-quality services that build on a multicultural heritage.
There are good tourist numbers despite the difficult economic situation…tourism is doing better than other sectors (because) this wealth can’t be shifted to other parts of the world Mr Fidanza said during a press conference. “It is up to us to support the competiveness of our companies and find the right tools to allow for growth.”
Among the proposals are:
- Creation of a “European quality tourism label”
identification of common quality criteria
a “European Tourism Card”, with a common set of passengers’ rights
harmonisation of the accommodation classification and reduced VAT rate for tourism.
Members also called for a reduction in the impact of tourism on the environment. They want the European Commission to promote better planning, particularly in coastal areas, and encourage the use of environmentally-friendly transport. There was also a suggestion that the EU executive to come up with an integrated strategy to encourage tourism by 2012 that raises awareness of culture, history, religion and nature while offering new services in the fields of sport, promoting industrial heritage and farm tourism. This would allow: the creation of sustainable jobs, reduce undeclared work and counter the rural exodus and problems arising from the seasonal nature of the work.