Tourism as a driving force for regional cooperation across the EU

​Hanspeter Wagner
The NAT commission recently appointed Mr Hanspeter Wagner (AT/PPE) as rapporteur for the opinion "Tourism as a driving force for regional cooperation across the EU".
This opinion will be addressing tourism policy in an integrated manner searching for synergies between tourism and other policies such as transport, agriculture, environmental protection, digital agenda, economic policy including investment challenges in the rural, semi urban and urban areas, social policy including all the demographic groups, and culture, etc. It is important to see clear links between tourism and other sectors and how they influence each other contributing to the Europe 2020 Strategy ensuring economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU.
Local and Regional Authorities, being responsible for more than 70% of public investment, are crucial players in supporting and managing investment projects, and creating optimal investment conditions, including in the tourism sector. They are in a strategic position to work with citizens, micro-enterprises and SMEs to promote and support tourism especially in rural, mountainous and geographically disadvantaged areas as well as cross-border regions.
Given their responsibilities, local and regional authorities play a key role in promoting sustainable, responsible and high-quality tourism that is competitive, flexible and adapts quickly to the changing environment creating jobs and growth.
The tourism sector is one of the priority sectors for investment generation and regulatory simplification according to the Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank Group. It is the third most important socioeconomic activity in the EU generating more than 5% of GDP of the European economy and employing 5.2% of the workforce. Tourism is as important for rural as for urban areas and plays a key role in territorial cohesion of Europe's regions.
It is facing a number of challenges, not only demographic changes or seasonal variations but also global competitiveness, current migratory flows, scarcity of resources and climate change, to name just a few. Innovative solutions are needed to create a secure and stable environment for tourism investors so that the sector flourishes and contributes to territorial cohesion in the EU, particularly in terms of encouraging the economic and social integration of rural and mountain areas, coastal regions and islands, peripheral and ultra-peripheral regions and less prosperous regions.
Particular focus will be given to recommendations for the development of strategies to foster integrated cross-border concepts for local and regional tourism.
The objective of this opinion is to identify obstacles cities and regions are facing when designing and implementing tourism strategies. Furthermore, it aims at searching for solutions that will help strengthen the tourism sector and make European regions and cities an attractive destination not only for tourists, but also for investors.
As a contribution to his draft opinion, Mr Wagner would be grateful if you could take part in a survey, by following this link.