European Parliament Puts Accessible Tourism on EU Agenda
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European Members of Parliament have passed a resolution on a renewed EU Tourism Policy: "Towards a stronger partnership for European Tourism", calling for Member States to make a united effort to support Accessible Tourism.
On 29 November 2007, European Members of Parliament passed a resolution on a renewed EU Tourism Policy: "Towards a stronger partnership for European Tourism", calling for Member States to make a united effort to support Accessible Tourism.
MEPs gave their backing to the report of Italian MEP Paola Costa, who provided a wide-ranging report on the challenges faced by the European Tourism sector, and a set of twenty-two concrete proposals for renewed action. The keyword which runs throughout the report is "partnership" - for only by working together, says Paolo Costa, can EU Member States tackle the fragmented policies and practices which currently frustrate efforts in the tourism sector.
Actions for the future of accessible tourism in Europe are called for in six specific paragraphs, declaring that the European Parliament:
"...Welcomes initiatives to coordinate at European level the information on accessible tourism that would allow tourists with reduced mobility and their families to find information about the accessibility of tourist destinations; calls on all Member States, tourism providers and national and local tourist organisations to join and/or to support this kind of initiative;
- At the same time, calls on the Commission and the Member States to consider the feasibility of drawing up a charter of the rights and obligations of European tourists, in view of the riotous and violent incidents caused by European tourists in European tourist destinations , and also a European code of conduct for tourist businesses;
- Calls on the Commission and the Member States to initialise an "Access for all " EC label that would guarantee core accessibility facilities for tourists with reduced mobility and would cover offers such as accommodation, restaurants, leisure and natural sites, auditoriums, monuments, museums, etc.;
- Stresses, furthermore, the need to protect, conserve and restore the European cultural heritage; and calls for more stringent management of such sites and of the conditions under which they are visited, and for greater efforts to improve access for people with disabilities, growing numbers of whom now travel for leisure purposes;
- Calls on the Commission to draft a Communication with an action plan on the enhancement of such a label based on the work it has already carried out , on experiences and best practices at national and local level and taking stock of what has been achieved at EU level in the transport field;
- Notes that the accessibility of tourist destinations is a matter that also has to do with the transport services provided or available; calls, therefore, on the Commission, for the purposes of the new European tourism policy and of developing European transport policy, to take due account of the accessibility handicap affecting regions with specific natural or geographical characteristics, such as the outermost regions, island and mountain regions, and the sparsely populated northernmost regions..."
Moreover, the Parliamentary Report presents no less than twenty-two suggestions for actions by the Members States, Regional and Local authorities, including the need to:
"... protect, preserve and restore European cultural heritage assets and [calls for] more rigorous management of cultural sites and their visiting arrangements, as well as for greater efforts to improve access for disabled people, an increasing number of whom are travelling for tourist purposes;..."
Responding to the Tourism Report on the European Day of People with Disabilities, ENAT Coordinator Ivor Ambrose stated: "We welcome this firm and forward-looking resolution by the Members of the European Parliament , as it gives a timely and much-needed message for public authorities and the tourism industry. All parties must work together across national and regional borders to make accessible tourism a reality, both for European consumers and international visitors. ENAT and its members are ready to play their part in fulfilling the ambitions that are contained in this resolution".
Download the full report from the European Parliament website (select any EU language).
Download the European Parliament Report in English or French from the right-hand panel, in PDF format.
Related article: Europe Needs Tourism Policy, by Paolo Costa, 2006