European Tourism Industry – A Regional Perspective

 

 “Local and regional authorities were among the first to realise that in order to ensure the continuous economic success of tourism it must be sustainable.”

said Mercedes Bresso, President of the Committee of the Regions.

Europe has far more to offer than beaches and sand, and overlooking its countryside, cultural, religious, culinary and sporting heritage, is wasting potential.
Tourism is the lifeblood of many of Europe’s regions, the main source of economic growth and employment. This is why the CoR is eager to encourage cooperation and facilitate the exchange of best practices, many of which have been devised at the sub-national level. Local and regional authorities were among the first to realise that in order to ensure the continuous economic success of tourism it must be sustainable. This view was echoed by the CoR, which argues that ‘sustainable’ means not only ensuring the long-term availability of tourism jobs but also protecting the environment and cultural heritage and preserving resources for generations to come.
Cooperation is not just about neighbouring regions or countries working together to promote tourism, however. The essence of providing a high quality, sustainable tourism product lies in the cooperation between local and regional authorities and the tourism industry itself.
It is clear that this experience in interregional and public-private cooperation in the field of tourism is directly applicable to the countries of south eastern Europe. This sort of collaboration could only serve to diversify the tourism product and increase quality. For instance, why not offer visitors to the Greek island of Thasos a weekend in the Bulgarian mountains and the opportunity to see the beautiful Rila Monastery, less than 80km away? Having such an option could bring significant addedvalue to a holiday, if only the tourists had the necessary information about all the possibilities the region has to offer.
This is not just wishful thinking, as there is a legal instrument that can help make this sort of trans-border cooperation a reality. The European grouping of territorial cooperation (EGTC) has already proven to be extremely useful in helping regions from different countries work together on a wide range of projects, and it is also open to candidate countries, making it perfectly adapted to use in this part of Europe.

 

 “Investing in tourism means enhancing territories, highlighting their specificities and identities.”

said Carlo Fidanza, Member of the European Parliament.

Tourism is the only economic activity which cannot be influenced by delocalization. Investing in tourism means enhancing territories, highlighting their specificities and identities, as well as their artistic, monumental, natural and landscape excellences.
“A new strategy on tourism must consider tourism as a policy area on its own”
Sustainability must lead to concrete actions and identify uniform criteria for a sustainable management of destinations at the local level, taking into account all the best practices available, especially with regards to responsible management of natural resources.
Sustainability is also culture and traditions and that is why I fully support the cooperation of the commission and the council for the development of cultural and religious itineraries. I believe this should be boosted, developing various other types of itineraries and contributing to the promotion of different kinds of tourism.
Tourism must be accessible for all – The so-called social tourism, which I would rather name as “tourism for all”, is very important in order to guarantee access to tourism for specific categories of people, notably elderly people and disabled people.
Finally, tourism must be accompanied by adequate financing tools – Best practices and networking are key concepts in the field of tourism and must be emphasized. However, they are not enough on their own, and the commission should have the necessary resources in order to achieve all actions and projects. In view of the new financial perspectives 2014 – 2020, it is crucial to reach the political support of member states and of the parliament in order to create a new budgetary line specifically for tourism. It is important to identify targeted objectives and to control how money is spent.

Danube Alliance Magazine No. 3 – June-September 2011

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