“The tourism sector has remained one of the leading job creators in Europe,but it can do more.The European Union should introduce a ‘European Citizen Travel Card’ in order to further promote a sense of European citizenship”,the rapporteur on tourism for the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) says.
The rapporteur, Hanspeter Wagner (AT/EPP), mayor of Breitenwang in the Tyrol, told the European Tourism Day conference, which was attended by three European commissioners, that “when they travel in the EU, many Europeans realise the advantages of being a European citizen. They discover that they are protected consumers and passengers, that they can shop duty-free, that they can use a single currency in 19 EU countries, and move freely in the Schengen area. We need to capitalise on this and do more.”
Mr Wagner continued: “With a European Citizen Travel Card, EU citizens could, for example, enjoy reduced prices for public transport and public museumsin participating EU regions and cities. We should also create a social media-compatible GPS travel app, called ‘DiscoverYrope’, providing useful information on the EU country visited and offering citizens some fun and bonuses through a European travel reward programme.”
These and other proposals, including a suggestion to create a European Capital of Smart Tourism Award, are contained in an opinion drafted by Mr Wagner and due for adoption on 7 December at a plenary session of the CoR, the EU’s assembly for local and regional politicians.
Mr Wagner’s proposals have secured the support of István Ujhelyi (HU/S&D), the Chairman of the Tourism Task Force created by the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN). “To bring citizens closer to the EU institutions, we need concrete projects based on mutual understanding,” says Mr Ujhelyi, who was one of the speakers at the conference. “We can achieve that by facilitating travel for young generations with a free rail ticket and making European tourism destinations visible with the creation of the European Capital of Tourism Award. Dialogue with citizens and with civil society, including stakeholders in the tourism industry, should give us the strength to make these programmes a success across Europe in the coming years.”
Patrick Torrent, President of NECSTouR (Network of European Regions for Competitive and Sustainable Tourism), who also supports the CoR own-initiative opinion underscored the importance of concerted cooperation between all levels of government and the European tourism industry.
He said: “Joint promotionis an opportunity for regions to use their diversity in order to offer a range of tourism experiences. Smart marketing and European mobility programmes should be part of this joint promotion plan.”
Speakers at the European Tourism Day included three European Commissioners: Tibor Navracsics, responsible for education, culture, youth and sport; Elżbieta Bieńkowska, whose portfolio is the internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs; and Karmenu Vella, whose brief includes the environment.