10 Mar

ABTA responds to European ‘Framework for Tourism’ consultation

The European Union should encourage tourism to be of the highest quality to flourish in a sustainable and safe way, ABTA has said in response to the first ever European consultation on creating a tourism framework for Europe.

Following the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, Brussels now has competency in the field of tourism. This builds on a long-standing but small role it has had in tourism policy for the last twenty years. The new European Commission, that took up the reigns in Brussels last month, has now been tasked with working out the EU’s new responsibility for tourism and how it should use it. This consultation was released to ask the views of tourism stakeholders ahead of the EU announcement about how it plans to approach tourism strategy across the European Union’s 27 Member States.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “We are delighted that we have been able to submit ABTA’s thoughts on the creation of a European tourism framework that should deliver long term economic and social benefits.”

“Ensuring that the European Union pitches its approach correctly in terms of tourism is a once in a generation opportunity. Whilst the tourism framework may not be as headline grabbing in our sector as the Package Travel Directive it nonetheless will play an important role in the future development of our sector across Europe.”

Within its submission ABTA has made the case that current legislation has meant there is market distortion as package organisers are unfairly disadvantaged particularly when it comes to consumer financial protection where it is mandatory, while other sectors are exempt.

ABTA is also calling for an EU Directive for Tourism Accommodation Safety where all EU States should comply to minimum standards of health and safety. Nikki White, ABTA’s Head of Destinations & Sustainability added: “Ensuring all European travellers are safe in their tourist accommodation is precisely what the EU should be doing with its new powers and ABTA is upping its lobbying to ensure that the European Commission recognises the safety improvements a new directive could deliver.”

ABTA believes that EU tourism will only be regarded as successful if sustainability is built in at every level, from destination planning to efficient use of resources and socio-economic development.

ABTA has particularly called for the promotion of a recognised system of sustainability accreditation; a workable application of emissions trading to tourism transport and accommodation; and the facilitation of the development of sustainable infrastructure.

The European Commission will consider the consultation responses and ABTA expects a formal announcement of a European Framework Strategy in the coming months.