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Procedure : 2002/2038(COS)
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Tuesday, 14 May 2002 - Strasbourg
European tourism

European Parliament resolution on the Commission communication to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on working together for the future of European tourism (COM(2001) 665 – C5-0077/2002 – 2002/2038(COS))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication (COM(2001) 665 – C5-0077/2002),

–  having regard to the report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Follow-up of the European Council of 21 September: the situation in the European tourism sector (COM(2001) 668),

–  having regard to Article 3(1)(u) of the EC Treaty,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Council Presidency on tourism for all, document 11894/2001,

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 February 2000 on the Commission's communication entitled "enhancing tourism's potential for employment' - follow-up to the conclusions and recommendations of the High-Level Group,(1)

–  having regard to Rule 47(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism and the opinions of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market, the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy (A5-0152/2002),

A.  whereas the tourist sector is of vital importance to the European Union, accounting for some 5% of GDP and employment (rising to 12% of GDP if the activity it generates in other sectors such as transport and distribution is included), and is undergoing a high rate of growth which is set to continue,

B.  whereas Europe is still the world's most important tourist destination, but its relative position has been worsening in recent years and an increasing number of Europeans are choosing tourist destinations in countries outside the EU,

C.  mindful of the benefits of greater accessibility for consumers to tourism products,

D.  whereas tourism is an economic sector which is constantly expanding at European and world level in terms of both production and employment; whereas it also represents a highly important economic and cultural resource for many cities, regions and local communities in the Union,

E.  having regard to the positive effect which the introduction of the euro, following on from freedom of movement for individuals, has had on the daily life of Community citizens, and to the need to introduce other fundamental elements of a genuine common dimension in European life,

F.  whereas the tourist industry offers many varied job opportunities for both men and women and will continue to do so in the future, and whereas employment policy in the tourism sector must be geared to maintaining strategies to improve the quality of work and reducing its precarious nature,

G.  whereas joint efforts and coordinated action with a European dimension are required to support the initiatives implemented by each of the 15 Member States,

H.  whereas an enormous number of measures taken by the European Union directly or indirectly affect the tourist sector, and whereas Community decision-making processes should take the tourism considerations into account,

I.  whereas when the economic and social cohesion policy is reviewed, the role of tourism will need to be emphasised more strongly because tourism is an economic activity that can not only help to restore regional socio-economic equilibrium, but can also boost development through its multiplier effect on agricultural production, craft trades, and industrial manufacturing,

J.  whereas for certain regions of the Union whose development is lagging behind, and for the outermost regions in particular, the tourist industry is the leading source of income and contributes significantly to their efforts to ensure the convergence of their economies towards the Community's average rate of development,

K.  whereas, therefore, tourism whose development is handled with prudence over the long term must provide local economies with a source of sustainable income and employment and must also contribute towards safeguarding and enhancing the landscape and cultural, historical and environmental features of the regions of the Union,

L.  having regard to the failings of the harmonisation of the laws of the Member States as regards applying a reduced VAT rate on labour-intensive services, particularly where the restaurant sector is concerned,

M.  whereas geographical, historical, cultural and environmental differences are a source of wealth and one of the main factors in attracting tourists to the Community's regions; whereas the European Union should support activities which seek to promote and develop their specific characteristics,

N.  whereas mass tourism in sensitive areas, such as coastal and mountain regions, may represent a threat to the local environment and cultural resources unless the influx of tourists and urban development are subject to appropriate management,

O.  whereas tourism is increasingly regarded in our society as a social right, meaning that, on the one hand, the needs of some social categories should be taken into account (e.g. disabled people and the poorest in society), and on the other hand that there is a great additional potential needing to be developed in connection with retired people, young people and activities which are of minor importance at present but have bright future prospects, such as rural tourism, ecotourism, spa tourism and social work camps for young people, and which will help make tourism more than a seasonal phenomenon and will nurture mutual understanding between our peoples,

P.  mindful of the importance of tourism as a vehicle for peace and of its key role in the economic development of certain peripheral regions of the European Union,

Q.  whereas communication between individual operators, particularly small businesses at regional, national and especially international level, is very limited, thus making a uniform approach difficult or even impeding operators in their relations with one another,

R.  having regard to the current economic situation, particularly since 11 September 2001, resulting from the coincidence, for the first time, of various negative factors: a crisis in the world's largest economies (the EU, the United States and Japan), the crisis in air transport, the crisis of confidence among citizens and the crisis in tourist firms faced simultaneously with consumer uncertainty and the power of certain mega-tour operators who are attempting to profit from current difficulties,

S.  whereas the figures recently issued by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) in its 2001 report call for forceful action to restore confidence (the figures show a worrying fall in world tourism in the last three months of the year, amounting to 24% for America and South Asia, 30% for the Middle East, 6% for Europe and 11% for the world as a whole),

A European strategy for tourism

1.  Welcomes the Commission's two documents of 13 November 2001, and regards them as a concrete signal of a desire to boost at European level a sector which is of great importance to the economy and the life of society;

2.  Welcomes the incorporation of tourism into Community policies and measures and hopes that this will be accomplished swiftly;

3.  Points to the need for the Commission to adopt an integrated approach to all policy measures which affect tourism; calls, therefore, given that tourism issues cut across boundaries, for the directorates-general concerned (transport, regional policy, employment, the environment, social policy, consumer protection, education and culture, etc.) to work to eliminate the existing fragmented planning and produce more accurately targeted and more closely interlocking Community programmes to guarantee sustainable development of the sector and vertical cohesion encompassing the regions, the national governments and the Community institutions; considers that for this purpose a business impact assessment of all EU measures with a major effect on tourism should be carried out, to ensure that activities with this aim benefit sustainable and responsible tourism;

4.  Believes that the new procedure for discussing the Commission's annual programme with Parliament should cover the whole range of current and projected measures related directly or indirectly to tourism;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to guarantee that Parliament has a role of substance to play in the open coordination method;

6.  Is very much in favour of organising a European Tourism Forum which, at Community level, might form an interface for promoting and improving cooperation between those professionally concerned with tourism and all others involved, in the interest of a cooperative approach to the future of tourism as proposed by the Commission; also wishes to see a strengthening in the role of the Advisory Committee on Tourism at Community level, with the participation of, amongst others, European consumer bodies and cultural and environmental heritage protection associations;

7.  Calls for the Forum to meet in public at least once a year and, in areas which are sensitive to tourism, for the Commissioners responsible for decisions affecting tourism directly or indirectly to hold discussions with representatives of the industry and tourism associations;

8.  Calls for the annual Forum to provide the setting for discussion forums, which would run alongside the discussions on priority areas for the sector proposed by the Commission and would share information (Community tourism initiatives launched in other areas such as Culture 2000 and Interreg), good practices and pilot schemes;

9.  Stresses that access to comparable information throughout the European Union would be greatly facilitated if uniform assessment procedures and labels were available, and calls on the Commission to encourage the drawing up of the relevant benchmarking standards by encouraging and catalysing initiatives in the sector though without supplanting it; this aspect is particularly important with a view to future Union enlargement to include the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, with which it is already possible to proceed;

10.  Considers it necessary, however, also to improve the quality of the information disseminated and the indicators produced, emphasising the credibility of the figures and the fact that they must be fully incorporated in the national accounts in order to provide an overall picture of the tourist industry and its component activities;

11.  Believes that the forthcoming enlargement of the Union will open up new prospects for European tourism, not just because more tourists from the new Member States will start visiting the Union, but also because the industry already plays an important role in the economic and social development of those countries and must continue to do so in the future;

12.  Expresses its interest in moving forward with the adoption of measures to respond effectively to the challenges facing the sector and prepare the ground for future action enabling Europe as a whole to remain the world's top tourist destination; calls, therefore, for support for a Community-wide framework programme for tourism and for a specific budget heading to be employed so as to enable the various projected measures, especially those related to training or intended to promote innovation, to be pursued coherently;

13.  Calls for the debate on tax harmonisation in the EU to look into its implementation in the tourist sector;

14.  Insists that the government bodies responsible for tourism as well as those coordinating the banking system should take all measures to ensure that, from 1 July 2002, European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001 of 19 December 2001on cross-border payments in euros(2) is applied and that all eurozone tourists should be guaranteed absolute transparency regarding payments by bank card; urges the Commission to continue to use all instruments at its disposal and take the necessary steps to ensure that the costs of cross-border transactions are brought closely into line with those of domestic transactions, thus making the concept of the euro zone as a domestic payment area tangible and transparent to tourists;

For sustainable tourism

15.  Calls, as regards the future, following the fundamental guidelines of Community policies and the conclusions of the Göteborg European Council of 15 and 16 June 2001, for sustainable tourism to be developed, which must be of high quality, competitive, and open to all, but never overstrain the reception capacities of natural and cultural sites; points accordingly to the need to develop information networks to be used to exchange knowledge and good practices so as to make private operators more aware of the social and environmental impacts of tourism;

16.  Notes that tourism can be a key factor in the regeneration of a whole community; calls on the Commission and the Council to ensure that the role of local and regional authorities in implementing sustainable economic development strategies is taken into account;

17.  Expresses its belief that the development of tourism must go hand in hand with policies geared towards the use, promotion and enhancement of environmental, artistic, historical and cultural resources;

18.  Considers it necessary to promote programmes and forms of aid to ensure that all the sectors and operators in the tourism chain, including local and regional authorities, draw up their own programmes for sustainable tourism, taking into account the potential of tourist destinations, identifying natural resources, protected areas, cultural heritage and specific features, as well as drawing up programmes to enhance and market the potential attractions of lesser-known regions;

19.  Stresses the need to develop efficient and sustainable transport infrastructure, not least with a view to ensuring access to remote regions such as mountain areas and islands;

20.  Believes in this context that the White Paper "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide" (COM (2001) 370) does not pay sufficient attention to the consequences of increasing tourism-related traffic;

21.  Calls on the Commission to assemble and evaluate the necessary measures to safeguard the accessibility of major tourist locations and publish the results;

22.  Welcomes the Commission's initiative to implement Agenda 21 in order to promote the sustainable development of tourism and hopes that all the parties concerned will be fully involved; calls for the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) – which has been accessible to local authorities since 2001 – to be promoted in these activities;

23.  Is very much in favour of building on Agenda 21 in order to promote targeted initiatives to foster sustainable tourist activity, including labelling for tourist services and travel organisers (tour operators, hotel sector, agencies, tourist guides, municipalities, etc.); fiscal measures designed to fund measures to redress the adverse effects of tourism; integrated management practices in sensitive areas (such as coastal and mountain areas); and the inclusion of tourism-related aspects in other economic activities;

24.  Calls on the Commission to consider the impact of European tourism on underdeveloped countries and to promote tourist activities and practices that further economic and social cohesion in those underdeveloped countries with tourist destinations;

25.  Considers that, in order to devise sustainable tourism indicators, it is necessary to include the criteria and recommendations set out in the European Charter on sustainable tourism signed by all the Member States;

26.  Calls for a third manual to be drawn up as a guidance document defining and applying the basic criteria of sustainable tourism and risk management in tourist destinations;

A resource for employment

27.  Stresses once more the role of tourism and the contribution it can make in the context of the challenge thrown down at the Lisbon European Council of 23 and 24 March 2000 to transform Europe into a region of full employment, with a vital and competitive economy, especially as regards those regions whose development is lagging behind, and the outermost regions in particular; recalls in this connection that tourist activities are highly labour-intensive, involving a workforce, especially seasonal workers, needing to be more and more specialised, which requires and encourages technologically more advanced occupational training and language skills and greater mobility for tourist service providers;

28.  Calls on Member States to encourage the development of a spirit of enterprise among women and young people in tourism and to promote their access to new technologies and to new methods of organising tourism businesses;

29.  Welcomes the Commission's proposal to identify new types of tourism and urges the Commission to look at the role sports-related tourism can play in both creating jobs and increasing visitor numbers;

30.  Proposes that Community funds be used to develop new forms of tourism to help make the industry less seasonal, for example rural tourism, health and especially spa tourism, or social tourism aimed not only at workers, but also at young and retired people, who constitute markets offering considerable potential growth; stresses the need to combat sex tourism and the like and calls for penalties to be imposed on those in the profession who encourage such practices by selling tourism products of that nature;

31.  Asks for greater emphasis to be placed on the quality of jobs created in the tourism sector, with a focus on training, the development of career structures, the recognition of qualifications, the protection of workers in insecure employment and the combating of clandestine employment;

32.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that tourism has an important role in their national action plans for employment in order to exploit all the opportunities which the development of tourism could offer for high quality sustainable job creation, and to restrict the negative impact of the current economic and political situation;

33.  Stresses the need to link the proposed actions with those of the multiannual programme for SMEs, particularly in the areas of training and the promotion of innovation – key points in the conclusions of the Lisbon European Council which the Commission communication does not deal with directly;

34.  Welcomes the Commission's recognition that the lack of adequate resources in terms of certain occupations and qualifications represents a challenge for the tourist industry; regrets that there are no clear proposals for tackling this problem; calls on the Commission to draw up a study into the human resource requirements by sector and region, taking account of existing and future challenges, and the context of a general tourism policy at national and regional level; calls on the Member States to take advantage of all the opportunities in the European Social Fund for appropriate vocational training and foreign language learning;

35.  Points out also that, by international standards, European tourist enterprises tend to be small (micro-enterprises, family firms, and SMEs), a fact which, given that laws and tax provisions have yet to be harmonised at European level, makes them less competitive;

36.  Calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), to propose quality and control standards for personnel training, in keeping with the needs of the local labour markets and technological developments; also calls on Cedefop to facilitate partnerships and dialogue between training institutes and the tourism industry to generate the requisite synergy between learning and professional experience;

37.  Calls on the Commission to draw up a communication on the recognition of vocational qualifications of workers in the tourist industry at European and national level;

38.  Regrets that no agreement has been reached between management and labour on the adoption of a directive to improve the conditions of workers in temporary employment; but welcomes the Commission's proposal and reserves the right to give its views in connection with its opinion on the special needs of workers in the tourist industry;

A positive response to a difficult economic situation

39.  Firmly believes in the usefulness of supporting small businesses at Community level, particularly in the case of networking, to promote Europe as a tourist destination, which might even build on events at national level (such as the forthcoming Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 or European historical and cultural itineraries) and could prove more effective than actions at national level, which can often cancel one another out; proposes, moreover, that the profile of Europe as a destination should be raised and promotion of it intensified by making appropriate use of the system of EU representations throughout the world;

40.  Calls on the Commission to propose a promotion programme to be implemented outside the Union's frontiers, involving the Member States and any candidate countries wishing to take part;

41.  Calls on the Commission to use its campaigns to promote the euro outside the Union to explain the advantages that tourists will have because they can use the same currency in most Union countries;

42.  Considers it essential that Satellite accounts for tourism (SATs) should be set up as proposed by the Commission in its communication, in accordance with the WTO's, OECD's and Eurostat's indications, so that the development of tourist activities in the Member States can be understood and assessed as fully as possible; is convinced, furthermore, that an instrument of such importance cannot be made reliant upon the goodwill of administrators in the Member States and should therefore be the subject of a Community framework initiative;

43.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that local authorities and the private sector are fully involved in the introduction of measures and schemes for the good use of Community financial and non-financial instruments (measure 6);

44.  Sees the need for the EU institutions to devise a strategic response to the crisis in air transport (Community airlines saw their business drop by 17.6% in the last 111 days of 2001 as compared with 2000, with a EUR 3 400 million drop in turnover);

45.  Calls for the Community's administrative resources (at present there is only a Tourism Unit) to be commensurate with the tasks needing to be completed and for Europe to give itself the chance to realise its ambitions; believes that if its organisational machinery and human and material resources were boosted in this way, the Commission would be able to:

   use interdepartmental consultations to take prompt, effective steps to ensure that the measures proposed by the various directorates-general regarding other Community policies properly allowed for the tourism aspect and the specific nature of typical tourist enterprises (SMEs), among other things on the basis of the necessary cost-benefit analysis;
   establish effective communication with tourist boards and key professional organisations in the sector, whether operating at European or national level;

46.  Calls on the Commission to draw up at the earliest opportunity proposals to include the restaurant sector, and possibly other as yet ineligible tourist services, on the list of sectors of activity entitled to a permanent reduction in the VAT rate, so as to boost employment and modernisation in the industries concerned and make European tourism better equipped to deal with international competition;

47.  Calls on the Convention currently considering the future of Europe to evaluate closely the need for the tourist sector to have a solid legal basis enabling it to give force to Community measures, by including in the Treaty a genuine common policy on tourism which, by encouraging the essential differences between the countries and regions, would make it possible to take coordinated measures for the development of European tourism, while complying with the subsidiarity principle and promoting European tourism in third countries;

o   o

48.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 339, 29.11.2000, p. 292.
(2) OJ L 344, 28.12.2001, p. 13.

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