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C 61/14 EN 14.3.2003Official Journal ofthe European Union
Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Commission Communication to theCouncil, the European Parliament,the Economic and SocialCommittee and the Committee of theRegionson Working together for the future of European tourism’
(2003/C 61/03)On 15 November 2001, the European Commission decided to consult the Economic and SocialCommittee, under Article 362 of the Treaty establishing the European Community on the above-mentionned proposal.The Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption, which was responsible for preparingthe Committee’s work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 11 September 2002. The rapporteur wasMr Liverani.At its 393rd Plenary Session (meeting of 18 September 2002), the Economic and Social Committeeadopted the following opinion with 123 votes in favour and two abstentions.1.
General background: observations on the concept of proximity
1.1. Recent events and the international climate of height-ened tension in ‘high risk’ areas of the worldsince the terroristattacks of 11 September have provided a dramatic reminderof the extent to which peace, understanding and mutualrespect amongst populations and the safety of transport andpeople influence the tourist industry.1.1.1. Tourism is highly sensitive to the above values.Absence of these values leads to severe short-term effects onthe industry and long-term changes in travel and holiday habits and lifestyles.1.1.2. Tourism (for leisure and business) thrives in anatmosphere of untroubled international relations and a spiritof friendship, cooperation and exchange amongst differentpopulations and cultures.1.1.3. A deep-seated warinessis taking root in internationalrelations, generating mistrust that could irretrievably blightrelations between people and populations. It is essential toensure that deep, unbridgeable dividesdonot openup betweennorth and south or between east and west. Now is the time tobuild bridges, to revive internationalrelations and restore trustand a sense of security. This is the intelligent and effectiveresponse to international terrorism, to the criminals who havesought to sow panic and unrest in people’s daily lives.1.2. However, there is no doubt that long-distance tourismto exotic and faraway places could suffer for some time(through concernaboutair transportsafety,political instability etc.), despite early signs of an upturn. For these reasons, thepublic will favour destinations closer to home, with the addedincentive of the single currency. In this context, there is all themore reason to promote the huge range of destinations andlocal attractions that Europe has to offer. In this challengingperiod, European localtourist industries can do much to:restore their local community’s trust in meeting andmixing with different people and cultures;boost market confidence, both within Europe and over-seas, that the EU offers safe and peaceful holiday desti-nations;improve the capacity of European destinations, from thelargest cities to the smallest villages, to welcome visitorsand provide suitable facilities for them;exploit the wealth of local identities, cultural and artisticheritage, localproducts, wine and speciality-food regions,cooking and traditions, social and natural environments,landscapes, lifestyles and customs and extend the hor-izons of time and space, whilst at the same timeconferring a sense ofpeace, familiarity and reassurance;promote employment and, more broadly, other sectorsof the economy, by developing a form of tourism thatenables visitors to find outabout localbusinesses.2.
The significance and values of tourism: new instru-ments for governing European tourism
2.1. The importance of the tourist sector for the economic,social and cultural development of Europe is now generally acknowledged. However, this has not yet been backed up by 
14.3.2003 EN C 61/15Official Journal ofthe European Unionan equal emphasis in EU policies. The Commission has madegreat efforts to bridge this gap, considering the lack of a clearlegal basis.2.2. The CommissionCommunication defines amore openstrategy and proposes anew Community approach to tourismin the form of ten specific measures. These measures form thebasis of a process designed to promote this important econ-omic and social activity in EU programmes. They focus oncoordination and cooperation between the various actorsinvolved in tourism policy; harmonising the standards thatregulate tourism in the Member States and promoting policiesof quality, accessibility and promoting the right for all peopleto have a holiday; improving research and understanding of the mechanics of tourism on a statistical, economic and sociallevel; encouraging anetwork culture by creating new networksand exchanging good practices; promoting tourist resorts as ahub for public-private sector interaction and as places whereresources are turned into tourism products; and makingoptimum use of Europe’s large and diverse range of touristdestinations, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity.2.3. Following the conclusions of the June 1999 Council, aperiod of closer cooperation based on the open coordinationmethod was initiated between the main interested parties(Member States,the tourist industry,civil society,the EuropeanCommission). This closer cooperation is in line with therecommendations contained in the Committee’s previousopinion on this subject(
).2.4. This method, as highlighted in the Commission docu-ment, is consonant with the guidelines laid down in the recentWhite Paper on European governance. The complex nature of the tourist industry and the interdependence between thevarious players make the sector a useful testbed for this.2.5. However it is worth underscoring that good govern-ance of the tourism sector implies a bottom-up approach,which meansputtingtheemphasis onlocaltourist industriesasthe focusfor applying the Commission’sguidelines,developingcoherent strategies and fostering understanding between localstakeholders. (See Resolution of the European Parliament A5-0030/2000, point N.)
) OJ C 75, 15.3.2000.
2.6. The Commission’s strategy respects the conditionsand the positions that emerged during the course of theconsultations and debates held upon completion of the workcarried out by the five working groups. This important workcould, however, yield even greater results if the above-mentioned resolution were acted upon, in particular Points Gand H: ‘whereas the European Parliament has been urging theCouncil for some considerable time to adopt a multiannualprogramme on tourism, which is needed on the one hand toimprovecoordination betweenthe various Communityactionsand, onthe other hand,to reinforce synergieswith the MemberStates’ policies on tourism’.3.
Destination Europe
3.1. The ‘Europe’ brand-name (withthe diversityand valuesassociated with it) represents added value to the attraction of individual countries, regions and local tourist resorts in theUnion.3.2. The European Community must make itself morecompetitive and attractive for tourists as a macro touristregion. It can thus attract tourists from other continents todifferent locations in Europe, thereby boosting the status of these destinations within the internal market.3.3. The current moves to create a free trade area in theMediterranean should also promote cooperation projects todevelop tourism in the countries on its southern shores, whileensuring these projects comply with EU regulatory standardsin the tourist industry and espouse respect for fundamentalhuman rights, the natural environment and local cultures andtraditions.3.4. Whenconsidering the EuropeanCommunity’spositionas a macro tourist region, attention must also be paid to thedevelopment and the promotion ofthe most outlying regions,from the far northern part ofthe continent to the islands.4.
The centrality of destinations and local identities inthe context of cooperation: encouraging the develop-ment of localtourist industries
4.1. The Commission Communication defines the specificfeatures of tourismas a factor for localdevelopment, correctly identifying the centrality of destinations in the provision of services and tourist attractions: ‘The tourist destination is themain place of consumption of tourist services and, therefore,the location and placeof activity oftourist businesses. Tourists
C 61/16 EN 14.3.2003Official Journal ofthe European Unionidentify the product with both the businesses providing aservice and the destination visited. (...) The destination is thehub of tourist activities and the focus of the tourist image. It isthe melting pot where public and private entities interact andwhere almost all SMEs in the tourist industry are active’.This is confirmed by the Council of Ministers Resolution of 21 May 2002.4.2. The identity of a particular area is the result of acomplex combination of unique factors: relics of its past,economic opportunities, networks of relations and services,meeting places, specific features of the urban and ruralenvironment and of the people who live there, landscapes,nature, local products, food, traditions, culture, flavours,encounters and exchanges, art, artists and characters past andpresent who experienced the atmosphere and described it intheir works.4.3. Identity givesa placeits soul(genius loci) everythingthat makes it unique and irreplaceable. However, identity isnot static and unchangeable, but the result of a continuousprocess of adapting to different needs, expectations andlifestyles. It is self-awareness when faced with change andrelations with others. A place where visitors are alwayswelcome, and where personal relations are the lifeblood, is aplace whose structure is constantly in the throes of change,and these changes may be difficult. Such places embracetrends, inspire fashions and offer different and personalexperiences to each individual. Welcoming tourists to desti-nations therefore means promoting the best a place has tooffer and building distinctive itineraries based upon exchangeand sharing.4.4. Promoting destinations provides an opportunity tohighlight the quality oflife and relations in a local community.The higher and more authentic this becomes, the more thisplace becomes attractive and popular for tourists. Tourismpolicies foster the constant extension and upgrading of infrastructure and service networks with the emphasis onrespect for the individual. They can thus create a user-friendly system of relations and services designed to ensure a pleasantstay, albeit temporary, for people who visit an area for culture,business or leisure.4.5. In the final analysis, what makes a tourist destinationattractive is the system of values it stands for. While alsoputting forward minimum standards as regards quality, EUtourism policy should foster the development of local identity and produce and the creation of a network of local theme-based tourist routes. These would pool common values(hospitality, providing common experiences, history, art, cul-ture, monuments, architecture, lifestyle, nature, traditions,gastronomy and so on) as well as highlighting the mainattraction of each place (with particular attention to nichemarkets). This could lead to the creation of a ‘catalogue of good practice, hospitality and the promotionof local identity’.The catalogue could key into and stimulate demand, which isincreasingly adventurous and attentive to local values andspecific features. It could also be made available on aninteractive Europeantourismwebsite.In thiscontext, attentionshould be given to the needs of those who travel for businessor conferences who, together with holidaymakers and culturaltourists, account for the bulk of Europeantourism.4.6. The Committee believes that a culture of tourismshould be encouraged, based upon:a) the key notionsof respect and the individual;b) self-awareness and identity;c) the principles of responsibility and sustainability;d) hospitality.4.7. There is a clear reference here to the code of ethics fortourism drawn up by the World Tourism Organisation. Thiscould, however, be supplemented with the approval anddistribution of a European charter of the principles and valuesof tourism in the European Union, which could preface aquality charterfor Europe’s touristdestinations (see point 9.4).A working group made up of experts nominated by theMember States could be set up to draft such a charter. Theresults of this working group could then be discussed withEuropean interest groups from the tourist industry during oneof the forthcoming European forums on tourism.5.
The Tourism and Employment process: stance andthoughts of the Committee
5.1. The Commission has focused on many of the pointsmade in the Committee’s previous opinion(
), and has incor-porated them into interesting proposals, but some issues haveyet to be explored in depth. In particular, the matter of 
) OJ C 75, 15.3.2000.

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