There is no question that tourism is one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Even if a light at the end of the tunnel is now slowly beginning to shine with the release of various vaccines, the question still arises as to how the sector can be supported and ultimately rebuilt until the pandemic is over. This is also an important issue within the European institutions. In the Communication "Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond", adopted on 13 May 2020, the European Commission announced a European Tourism Convention to launch a dialogue on sustainable recovery and strategic orientations for tomorrow's tourism and to guide future work and cooperation in the tourism sector (towards a European Agenda for Tourism 2050). That Tourism Convention took place on 12 October in virtual form. The discussions focused on three main topics: Resilience; Sustainability/Green transition; Digital transition, data and innovation. The aim was to define the first steps towards a comprehensive European policy framework for tourism with common priorities to underpin investment, support and facilitate cooperation between Member States and mobilise the industry around policy priorities.
In addition to individual contributions from all EU Member States, the European Parliament, represented by the Chairperson of the Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) and the Parliamentary Tourism Task Force (TTF) Karima Delli, also expressed its views on the key challenges and priorities of the European tourism sector for the next 10 to 20 years. Delli emphasized the need to take steps towards a broad-based, EU-wide tourism strategy. New, creative compromise solutions to support the companies and people working in the sector are needed. The key is to assess what has not worked and which options would work well in the near future. If this has been properly assessed, joint efforts can be made to build a more competitive and sustainable travel and tourism sector. Urgently needed, according to the TTF, are:
(a) coordination of travel restrictions, hygiene and health protocols at EU level;
(b) consistent and transparent risk assessment criteria across the EU; and
(c) direct and committed financial support.
The TTF believes that this agreement must be a first step towards a genuine EU policy for sustainable tourism, taking into account the following aspects:
(a) a crisis management mechanism for possible future crisis situations;
(b) an EU tourism strategy for sustainable tourism, proposing that Member States set clear, strategic and result-oriented objectives;
(c) governance in the tourism sector to measure sustainability criteria (economic, social and environmental impact) with clear measurement, control and monitoring criteria; and
(d) a clear action plan to help the sector manage the double transition to digital and greener tourism, including a security component.