EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 22 July 2002

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY – INSTANT NEWS ON TRAVEL POLICY IN EUROPE

EU ANNOUNCES TOURISM FORUM PROGRAMME

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 22 July 2002

The European Commission has finalised the programme for the European Tourism Forum 2002. This will be the first of the annual meetings that the Commission suggested last year as part of its plan to strengthen European tourism, and which has since won the support of the European Parliament and of the Council of Ministers.

The aim is to bring together some 400 representatives from the tourism industry, civil society, the European institutions, national and regional authorities dealing with tourism, and international organisations, to assess the scope for cooperation. The programme will focus principally on sustainability of tourism, and on business impact assessments of legislation likely to affect tourism. "By choosing these topics, we want to contribute to the EU-wide debate and process, complementing the efforts to improve sustainable competitiveness in the European tourism sector", says the Commission. And if demand for places exceeds supply, "preference will be given to applicants who lead small or medium-sized tourism enterprises or tourist destinations", the Commission says.

The ceremonial opening will feature European Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen (who is responsible for tourism), Euro-MP Helena Torres Marques, and Bendt Bendtsen, the Danish minister of business and economic affairs, who is President of the EU’s new Competitiveness Council, and who will indicate areas where he believes the EU can contribute to strengthening national tourism efforts. Ralph Corsten of Preussag, who chaired the EU high-level group on tourism and employment in 1998, will reflect on progress since his group reported. Germán Porras, president of the European Travel Commission, will review economic perspectives and challenges for European tourism – particularly in strengthening the image of Europe as a set of destinations. And World Tourism Organisation secretary-general Francesco Frangialli will consider "destination Europe" in the global tourism context.

Successive panel sessions will then examine the two working topics. Sustainability will be discussed by the Commission’s director for tourism, Pedro Ortun, by Accor’s management board chair Jean Marc Espalioux, by Margarita Najera Aranzabal, the mayor-president of Clavia, Mallorca, by Gennaro Pannozzo of the Ente Bilaterale Nazionale Turismo, by Manfred Pils, the secretary-general of Friends of Nature International, and by Klaus Töper, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Business impact assessment will be discussed by Jean-Paul Mingasson, the new head of the Commission’s directorate-general responsible for enterprise – and for tourism; David O’Sullivan, the Secretary General of the European Commission (who will suggest – an integrated approach to policy measures affecting tourism); David Babai, the president of the European Tour Operators Association ; Martin Brackenbury, chairman of the World Tourism Organisation Business Council; Walter Krombach, chairman of ECTAA (the EU grouping of national travel agents’ and tour operators’ associations); Henri Malosse of the European Economic and Social Committee and director of European and international affairs of the French assembly of chambers of commerce and industry; and Niels Nygaard, president of Hotrec, the European hotel and restaurant confederation.

A concluding session will feature James Provan, vice- president of the European Parliament, Greek development minister Apostolos-Athanassios Tsohatzopoulos, Richard Rosser, chairman of the European trade union liaison committee on tourism, ELTC, a spokesperson of the European Tourism Industry Network, a representative of the EU’s Committee of the Regions, and Commissioner Liikanen.

EU FUNDING TO HELP ATHENS OLYMPIC GAMES

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 22 July 2002

The European Union is to make Euro 1.4 billion available to help make the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece a success, announced European Regional Affairs Commissioner Michel Barnier on a visit to Athens today. EU structural funds are cofinancing vital transport infrastructure, including an extension of the Athens metro, a tramway, modernisation of the bus and trolley-bus fleet, a new bus depot, an intercity rail route, information-technology-based facilities for passengers, improvements to the Athens ring road, and transport facilities to archaeological sites. "The EU stands behind the Greek authorities and the organising committee for the games to be a success", said the Commissioner. He also said he was ready to discuss additional EU support, particularly via the EU cohesion funds, for other infrastructure projects necessary to the games’ success.

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