EU can stay a world leader in tourism by promoting less popular destinations

Written by Kosma Złotowski on 7 July 2016 in Opinion
Opinion

The key to helping Europe stay a world leader in tourism could be to promote less popular destinations, says Kosma Złotowski.

Kosma Złotowski | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual


Europe boasts many advantages within the global tourism market. Our history and heritage are examples of why our continent is the global leader in terms of number of visitors. However, although we are the world number one destination, we must not stop there - we must look forward.

Competition between tourist destinations around the world requires a common response from EU member states. This is why Parliament's transport and tourism committee has decided to initiate a debate on the future of tourism in Europe in the face of global competition.

The digital age has provided us with many tools that can improve our potential, especially in unpopular locations. Even in the most popular tourist destinations, some places and regions attract far fewer visitors.


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It is even more the case in countries without a well-developed tourism sector. I believe this situation can, and should, be improved with EU support.

We need to create a global brand that will help promote Europe as a tourist destination. All member states have their own policies in this area, and of course these promotional strategies should be given priority. 

We shouldn't increase the level of competition between European countries in terms of tourism, but rather help countries that receive fewer visitors become part of a wider European offer for tourists. 

When it comes to promoting a destination, the experience of national and regional authorities will always be much more effective than any bureaucratic model designed in Brussels. However, countries that do not have a developed tourism sector could benefit from EU assistance.

The digital age has brought us many new opportunities and tools, but Europe isn't a place where these new business models are invented.

We might not be the homeland of innovation, but we can be the place where these new technologies are used properly. For this reason, we should be friendlier to consumers and clients who wish to benefit from more flexible and cheaper offers.

One of the major problems for Europe's tourism sector is seasonality. Many destinations are full of guests during the summer holidays, but are virtually empty during the other seven or eight months in the year.

This is a huge challenge for the tourism industry, but I see here a great opportunity for success for solutions designed at European level.

At the same time, there is no point in creating a new body, such as a special European agency designed to handle the EU tourism sector's problems. We have a lot of resources already, and we should manage them properly. 

There is no need to create any new bureaucratic institutions at European level, but we do have to reorganise our current practices according to existing problems.

Of course, while this report proposes some solutions, it cannot give a clear answer to how to deal with all the challenges facing European tourism.

I personally believe the future of this sector lies in places that are not currently very popular destinations, but have huge undiscovered potential. We just need to find a way to promote their merits.

In order to maintain a leading position globally, Europe must use the potential of the digital age, protect the diversity of our cultural heritage, tackle seasonality and find a way of promoting less popular destinations.

 

About the author

Kosma Złotowski (PL) is ECR group shadow rapporteur on the new challenges and concepts for the promotion of tourism in Europe

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