Do we need Brand Europe?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Last week, a document called The European Tourism Manifesto for Growth and Jobs was launched which declared “the urgent need for a genuine recognition of the importance of tourism.”

Do visitors see the EU as a holiday destination?

I bow to no one in trumpeting the importance of tourism despite the fact that quite often it is the tourist that is forgotten in the overwhelming desire to attract more tourism

Although this document suggests that the EU should move towards a common tourism policy  – something that the head of the European Tourism Commission, Eduardo Santander, has argued to no avail over the years – will this document stimulate change?

Santander has eyed the huge resources available to Brand USA and I think, envisages something like that for the promotion of the EU  either as a single entity, in thematic offers or by certain geographies eg beach holidays or walking ones.

Santander said in launching the manifesto, “Tourism promotes an awareness of a common European identity, helping to sustain our cultural and natural heritage. It helps to stimulate economic growth by generating employment, investment and income in Europe. But this growth is not guaranteed.”

One of the reasons that might hit this growth is Brexit yet it appears that it wasn’t discussed. Some EU countries rely heavily on British tourism just as the UK relies heavily on EU visitors. So why was it that nothing was said?

Could it be that Brexit is so sensitive for civil servants to mention? Could it be that because  no-one seems to know what is going on that it was easier to omit the subject entirely?

Santander wants, “an integrated European tourism policy with increased financial support at EU level.” Does that mean that France, Spain, Germany, Italy and all the other EU countries will have to follow a central policy rather than promote themselves on their own? That sounds a bit like a dog’s breakfast to me and reminiscent of what happens at a local level. Talk to a national tourist authority and it will tell you that it is responsible for everything and contact it for information. Talk to a region and it will claim it receives insufficient assistance and support from a national body and to contact it directly.

The EU geographic area isn’t seen as a holiday destination by tourists. It is as individual countries or areas like the Algarve, the Canaries, the Cote d’Azur, Tuscany or the Greek islands that it is seen. Promoting “Visit Europe” as an idea seems a waste of €300 million that could be better spent by individual countries or areas.

Santander’s plan looks likely to just introduce another layer of bureaucracy making it even more confusing for the tourist.

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