Committee of Regions: Regions and cities use the COVID-19 crisis to spark a debate on resilience and sustainability in the tourism sector

Committee of Regions: Regions and cities use the COVID-19 crisis to spark a debate on resilience and sustainability in the tourism sector

On 8 December, an opinion drafted by Manuel Alejandro Cardenete Flores (ES/Renew Europe), Deputy Minister for Tourism, Regeneration, Justice and Local Administration of the Regional Government of Andalusia and the Vice-President of NECSTouR, was presented during the plenary session of the Committee of Regions.

The opinion underscores the fact that the crisis caused by COVID-19 has brought about dramatic changes in the tourism sector and reflects on how political leaders could address the challenges and drive forward the sustainable agenda for modernisation.

"The crisis accelerated the urgency of the measures needed to respond to challenges and to ensure the safety and well-being of residents and of visitors. We think that tourism has the capacity to give the answer with adequate policies and with the necessary investments, but always leading the transformation of the model of sustainability proposed by the Green Deal and Digital Agenda of the European Union." said Manuel Alejandro Cardenete Flores, rapporteur of the opinion.

The European Committee of the Regions also calls for the allocation of sufficient financial resources to save the sector, for the development of a long-term European tourism policy, and for a sustainable tourism industry, based on respect of the environment and fight against climate change. The CoR's opinion proposes various measures related to tourism and the transport sector, such as state aid and visa waivers, and underlines the need for an innovative approach to this sector.

The improvement in the tourism and transport models must guarantee that they are fully sustainable from the social, economic and environmental perspective. The opinion highlights the importance of a post-pandemic revival of the European tourism on the basis of a data and technology driven sustainable industry and intelligent management of the tourist flows, exploring viable options for tourism-related industries and regions.

The opinion also defines the Barcelona Declaration of NECSTouR "Better Places to Live, Better Places to Visit" as a benchmark demonstrating that the tourism and cultural heritage sectors can work closely together for the benefit of the people of Europe and cultural heritage.

The opinion highlights the benefits of disseminating best practice, strategies and methodologies for sustainable tourism developed in the various European programmes such as PANORAMED, Horizontal MED Project STC and MITOMED+ - where NECSTouR and its members are partners - in order to promote their capitalisation and replicability.

The opinion recommended that further action be taken to make use of and optimise the extensive work carried out in recent years by the Commission, such as the ETIS system of indicators, the S3 Platform  for digitalisation and safety for tourism and the Tourism of Tomorrow Lab, both supported by NECSTouR.

It also reiterated how important it is for Member States and their regional authorities to include tourism priorities in their post-2020 operational programmes in order to promote access to European funding to finance tourism projects.