European Parliament Tourism Intergroup Hosts Meeting on Impact of Global Recession
25/02/2009 | 0 comments
Madame Sudre, Chair of the EP Intergroup on Tourism brought together key players in the tourism sector on 18 February 2009 to review the consequences of the global economic downturn for the European tourism industry.
Analyses, prognoses and possible actions were presented by the European Commission, HOTREC, Social Partners and others.
2008 has seen a growth of the tourism sector of 2%, mainly explained by the good results during the first semester, before the collapse during the second semester with a fall of minus 3% in Europe, which is set to continue in 2009.
Mr. Harald Weidenhofer, EFFAT, observed that, according to a German survey on tourism, in January 2009, 35% of Germans were still unsure whether or not they would even go on holiday this year; back in January 2008, this figure was just 7%. A sense of "wait and see" is still very much in evidence throughout the sector, he said.
It was reported that the European Trade Union Congress (ETUC) has already put forward a number of tangible proposals, namely safeguarding the financial security of many SMEs, utilising state investment to enhance tourism-related infrastructure and, finally, reducing VAT on labour-intensive activities in the sector to ease the situation for SMEs.
Mr. Medina Ortega declared that [the Intergroup] should organise an initiative at the EU level. Spain has already taken measures, he said. Spain subsidises trips which is a good initiative to spread tourism between Spain and Portugal, since 20 years. It is the first time that we have a transnational initiative. It is not very expensive and produces good results. Raising the taxes is a big mistake, he stated.
Madame Sequaris, HOTREC, gave a slide presentation, emphasising that the crisis is having a direct and significant impact on the hotel and catering industry, which is made up of 1.6 million enterprises, employing 9 million persons and (normally) adds 163 billion Euro of value to the economy each year. Holiday and business bookings are significantly down and confidence is low, she said. Accordingly, the prospects for recovery in the sector are bleak. Madame Sequaris called on the European Commission - among other things - to review its policies in light of the crisis, remove duplication in its work across various Directorates General, reduce the burden of "red tape" which tourism enterprises encounter, and create the conditions for economic recovery and redeployment of labour.
The Meeting Minutes (in French and English) may be downloaded in PDF format from the right-hand panel, together with the slide presentation (in English only) given by Marguerite Sequaris of HOTREC.