Enhancing Territorial Competitiveness
The European People's Party Group in the Committee of the Regions:
1. underlines that tourism has a vast impact on the EU efforts to support growth and job creation, since Europe remains the world's n°1 tourist destination, and tourism represents its third largest socio-economic sector; together with its related industrial clusters and services, tourism can generate up to 10% of Europe’s GDP and provides approximately 12% of all jobs;
2. Welcomes the European dimension of tourism, which has been strengthened through the Lisbon Treaty and underlines the importance of promoting competitiveness in the tourist sector;
3. Regrets that the tourism sector in Europe is facing challenges from the current economic crisis but recalls the growth potential deriving from this sector, since over the last ten years tourism registered a higher rate of employment growth than in other economic sectors, thus contributing to economic recovery in several Member States;
4. Believes that the new tourism role granted to Europe must lead to greater support for all those involved in the tourism industry – including local and regional authorities, by encouraging investment in a sustainable tourism policy in line with the principles of economic, socio-cultural and environmental sustainability, whilst respecting local and regional specificities;
5. Considers that European local and regional authorities play an essential role in developing for high-quality, sustainable tourism and believes that multilevel governance should be the main tool to further enhance cooperation in the sector;
Building a competitive tourism industry: delivering the Europe 2020 Strategy
6. Highlights the close links between the development of the tourism sector and the Europe 2020 Strategy, since tourism represents an opportunity to invest in sustainable development and economic and social integration initiatives and policies;
7. underlines the efforts made by the EU to identify high-quality destinations through the European Destinations of Excellence gateway (EDEN), based on sustainable development policies, and encourages these destinations to cooperate by exchanging best practices and strengthening they mutual partnership through the establishment of an European network for touristic excellence;
8. encourages the development of a European Tourism Quality Label as a tool for the promotion of territorial specificities – including those linked with agricultural processes and gastronomies - and a means to consolidate the image of Europe as a 'brand' to the rest of the world.
9. calls for practical measures to boost technological innovation in the tourism sector as part of the Digital Agenda for Europe, and draws particular attention to the contribution of Small and Medium Enterprises which are predominant in this sector and need support to take full advantage of the opportunities available in the Digital single market; Also underlines the importance of public-private partnerships in this field;
10. In addition to the importance of partnership between public and private bodies, underlines the importance to set up partnerships with NGOs, Universities and Research & Development centers in order to boost innovation in the tourism sector;
11. Recommends to foster the sustainable and responsible development of tourism by incorporating and safeguarding and supporting Intangible cultural heritage and assets in innovative forms of policy-making, and believes that this must become part of the European strategy for tourism and a fundamental component of territorial attractiveness;
12. Supports the use of large scale cultural festivals and events such as the European Capitals of Culture initiative, which offer cities the opportunity to invest in infrastructure and can thus have a lasting sustained effect on their quality and on their attractiveness as a tourist destination and as a place to live and work.
13. Stresses that Cohesion Policy and other European financial resources should be used to support tourism in the EU's cities and regions, be it for financing projects contributing to the development of the tourism industry, infrastructure, transport, nature conservation, or training and the better anchoring of arts, culture and the creative industries;
14. Supports the exchange of best practice, sharing synergies and setting up platforms for cooperation in tourism management and planning through European tools, such as the European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation or more thematic networks such as the former-present-future European Capitals of Culture;
Societal challenges on the EU stage:
15. Highlights that the development of tourism can help regional and local authorities tackle the challenges linked to industrial, suburban and rural decline, and can also represent a concrete way to reshape and bring new life to areas experiencing social exclusion, immigration and urban sprawl.
16. Stresses the importance of the concept of tourism for all which promotes mobility and social inclusion for all social and age groups and people suffering from physical and mental handicaps, and provides additional income in tourist destinations especially outside off peak season.
17. Recognizes that tourism needs to respond to global challenges related to climate change. Supports local and regional authorities, as well as the private sector, in their efforts to promote green and sustainable tourist alternatives linked to agriculture and safeguarding the natural environment.
Declaration of the European People's Party Group
in the Committee of the Regions at its external meeting
Faro, 1 June 2012