In view of discussions on the future EU budget, regions and cities today called for strengthened investment opportunities for sustainable tourism, during a meeting of the EPP Group in Faro. Participants underlined that in line with the Europe 2020 targets for economic, ecological and social development, sustainable tourism can generate a large percentage of GDP and provide a beacon of hope for young people.
“The Europe 2020 Strategy is our model for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Today, we have learned that tourism is closely linked to all three of these targets.” Michael Schneider, President of the EPP Group in the Committee of the Regions, expressed. “Local and regional authorities play an essential role in developing and managing tourism projects and that is why we need to ensure that sufficient attention is paid to these programmes and projects in the future budget.” The EPP Group’s declaration therefore calls for a spirit of multilevel governance when further developing EU policy in this field in order to further enhance cooperation.
Manuel Pinto de Abreu, Portuguese Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs, made his intervention on tourism as a vector for economic development. “We need an appropriate, strategic and forward looking financial framework. At the moment, the discussions are too focused on specific activities and do not consider competences such as tourism, which can have an impact on growth and social welfare. Moreover, the new regulations governing the common EU policies must see tourism as a vital element to economic growth.” The EPP Group underlined that these funds provide support for a large scope of activity ranging from the development of the local tourism industry to improving infrastructure, transport links and nature conservation. As such, the meeting concluded that EU financial support is essential for the future of tourism.
The Secretary of State also believes that “competitive and sustainable tourism has an added value for young people who need hope for a brighter and better future. As a whole, the European young generation is better educated than in the past, has keen interest in nature and expertise in the digital agenda. If we can attract them to traditional activities such as agriculture and fisheries, we can open a major field of opportunity for them and for the future of tourism. This could also be a step in the right direction for reducing unemployment rates.”
José Macario Correia, Mayor of Faro: the leading tourism destination in Portugal and host of the EPP Group meeting, pointed to the close interaction between natural and cultural heritage, the environment and local people. “These are the key ingredients that help tourism grow and which can give our economy a positive impulse during recovery from the current economic crisis” he underlined. “During this meeting in Faro, I would like to highlight our experience of combining sustainability and growth in our natural park in Faro; one of the natural marvels of Portugal.
Throughout the meeting, many local and regional experiences were presented and shared. For example, Ivan Zagar, Mayor of Slovenska Bistrica, spoke about the impact of culture on tourism making reference to Maribor’s title of European Capital of Culture 2012 and Marek Wozniak, Marshall of Wielkopolska, explained how Poznan is preparing for the UEFA European Football Championship and how sports tourism can boost the local economy. Victoria Palau Tarrega, Director General of European Affairs in the Valencian Government, made an intervention on the region’s experience on tourism as a provider of jobs.
This meeting was also the opportunity to launch the third in a series of brochures dedicated to the role of local and regional authorities in implementing the Europe 2020 Strategy. Forging links between Europe 2020 and the tourism industry, this brochure contains examples of successful projects from across EU with the aim of demonstrating that EU funds can be used for tourism projects on the ground therefore contributing to jobs and growth in the region.