Economic Recession - Time for Renewal in the European Tourism Sector
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Large sections of the tourism industry are hit by the downturn in consumer spending as the recession spreads through the global economy. Employees in the hotel and restaurant sector of the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism unions (EFFAT) call on EU Member States to protect jobs and improve training and infrastructure to renew the sector in the current crisis.
Large sections of the tourism industry are feeling the impact of the downturn in consumer spending as the recession spreads through the global economy. Employees in the the hotel and restaurant sector of the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism unions (EFFAT) have called for EU Member States to act together to protect jobs and improve training and infrastructure to strengthen the sector in the current crisis.
At their annual general assembly on 24 and 25 March 2009, representatives from EFFAT member organisations in the EFFAT Hotel Restaurant Catering and Tourism sector (HRCT) discussed the impact of the financial and economic crisis on the sector.
According to reports of participants, the situation varies from country to country and even between the different tourism segments. Ski resorts seem to have stayed almost at the same level in 2007 and 2008, culture and town tourism has encountered stagnation, and in some regions a decline of 5-10% compared to sales in 2008 has been noticed.
The most severe impact on tourism is expected in Greece and Spain, which are amongst Europe's leading tourism destinations, and where the tourist flow may end with a decline of 30% in summer 2009, meaning that nearly 1 million people would be hit with unemployment, many hotels would be empty and many local communities would grind to a halt because tourism is their main source of income.
EFFAT urges national governments to integrate tourism in rescue packages, and to ensure that the European tourism can still be competitive when the economic crisis is over, for example by supporting investments in infrastructure and renovation.
ENAT reinforces this message, calling for national and regional tourism authorities, destinations and enterprises to do more to attract the large - and growing - accessible tourism market as a way of beating the crisis. A "quality lift" can be gained by tourism sector investments in human resources with specialised training to welcome guests with access needs, and access improvements to infrastructure and information services.
An analysis of the accessible tourism market has identified demand types for people with disabilities or health impairments and the elderly population. It showed that the general demand for accessibility in Europe alone exceeds 127 million people. This represents more than 27% of the European population. It has been estimated that 70% of them have both the financial as well as the physical capabilities to travel. If their friends, relatives and carers are included, this figure rises substantially, with estimated tourism revenues exceeding €80 billion. This potential is simply too big to ignore, especially at this time of economic hardship in the industry.