Members of Parliament’s Tourism Task Force reiterate that the tourism sector needs more coordination at EU level, as well as substantial support to give SMEs a chance of survival.
On Wednesday, the Transport and Tourism Committee met travel & tourism stakeholders to discuss ways to overcome this unprecedented crisis.
After the meeting, the Tourism Task Force MEPs led by Karima Delli (Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism) issued a joint statement, highlighting the tourism sector’s disappointment due to the little help received by the EU.
After six months since the emergency started, there are still no common criteria in the EU on how to handle the Covid-19 pandemic. There are no universal hygiene and health protocols, no common rules for testing or for risks assessment, no adhering to the free movement principle. Traveling, when possible, is extremely difficult due to the large numbers of rules. People are confused and have no guarantees that their planned journeys can go ahead.
The tourism sector, which generates 22 million jobs in Europe, is about to collapse. Depending on the country, tourism accounts from 4.3% to 25% of the GDP. If things remain unchanged, hundreds of thousands of SMEs will not survive until the end of 2020.
It is still not clear which crisis management tool could be used by the tourism sector, besides the “European instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency” (SURE). The members of the Tourism Task Force urged the European Commission and the member states to define a common and concrete action plan and to find a crisis management mechanism.
The tourism sector is in urgent need of direct financial support; consistent and transparent criteria to assess the risks across the EU; EU-level coordination of travel restrictions, hygiene and health protocols; and a clear path towards an EU policy on sustainable tourism.
Time has come for the EU to develop a strategy on sustainable tourism and to create a dedicated budget line in the next long-term EU budget. Tourism Committee MEPs have asked a €300 million budget line to implement a common vision for sustainable tourism over the next seven years. The budget is essential to give a chance to the tourism sector to recover after months of stagnation, reshaping it in a more sustainable way.