We are celebrating World Tourism Day for the 42nd time, but there is little cause for celebration. The sector, which provides more than twenty-five million jobs in Europe and guarantees the livelihood of at least 400,000 workers in Hungary, was just trying to recover from the severe economic damage caused by the covid pandemic, but the deepening subsistence and overheads crisis, especially in our country, is once again driving the sector to the bottom of the barrel.
The post-opening summer season has already been meaningfully strong, and there is visible progress in global tourism, but the sector needs much more time and much more attention to fully reboot and, above all, to operate sustainably. The flurry of chaos in air transport, small and medium-sized enterprises on the verge of bankruptcy, services being closed down one after the other, spiraling overheads and an unforeseeable future all make it clear that European decision-makers and national governments must not leave the tourism sector behind.
As Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament’s Commission for Tourism, I firmly maintain that it is time to prioritize sustainability, environmental and social aspects in the sector, as well as find a balance between stimulating and serving government measures. It is beyond dispute that the sector and the millions of families who depend on it need a permanent crisis management structure and meaningful EU budgetary support to survive and thrive.
There is no question that we need to support the digital switchover as widely and as quickly as possible, as well as more resources for training and education to ensure that the right numbers of workers can be replaced. But there is also no doubt that in the current severe economic crisis, governments need to ensure that there is a ‘perpetual overheads cut’ for service providers in the sector through investments that increase and maintain energy efficiency.
Tourism is an industry of peace that guarantees the livelihoods of millions of European families and contributes at least 10% of the European Union’s GDP. That is why the tourism sector deserves special attention and support – and not just on World Tourism Day!
István Ujhelyi MEP
Vice-Chairman of the EP Committee on Transport and Tourism
UNWTO Ambassador Extraordinary
Budapest/Brussels – 27/09/2022