Breton: EU recovery fund should help tourism sector become ‘more resilient’

European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton during a news conference on the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, 15 December 2020. [EPA-EFE/Olivier Matthys]

The EU budget and coronavirus recovery fund should be used to help tourism “emerge more resilient from the crises ahead,” the EU’s internal market commissioner Thierry Breton said on Thursday (21 January).

The commissioner, who was speaking by videoconference at an international forum on education, employment and training in tourism, said the pandemic could act as “an accelerator of change” for the tourism sector.

To this end, “industry, public authorities, social partners, education and trade providers should join forces,” Breton said, adding: “We should not leave aside a long-term perspective and how to have a more resilient tourism”.

In December, the European Union agreed on a €1.8 trillion budget and coronavirus recovery fund for the next seven years (2021-2027), some of which can be used for the tourism industry.

For Breton, EU money for the tourism sector should be targeted with “a dual objective: to act in the short term and boost long-term investment for the simple transformation of tourism into green and digital”.

That view was echoed by Portuguese economy minister, Pedro Siza Vieira, who pointed to the importance of European economic instruments in the recovery and transformation of the tourism sector to make it greener and more ‘digital’.

“As we begin to prepare for the implementation of European ‘NextGenerationEU’ funds, we are also considering how best to prepare our societies and our economies for the challenges of tomorrow,” said Siza Vieira.

In this way, he stressed, “tomorrow’s society and the economy will be more digital, more sustainable and certainly more resilient”.

For the minister, who is also responsible for the digital transition, digital technologies will be “fundamental” for the future of tourism, especially in the selection of destinations, in payment systems, and in contacts between companies and customers more generally.

Siza Vieira said he considers it “opportune” to pay attention to the tourism industry in the context of the Portuguese presidency of the EU Council. The sector should be “up to date with the critical skills that will be required for the future” as the tourism industry prepares to restart after the pandemic, he said.

The international forum on education, employment and training in tourism was organised by the Portuguese economy ministry as part of country’s six-month EU Presidency, which began on 1 January.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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