AGENDA 21 FOR EUROPEAN TOURISM:
Towards a sustainable tourism development in Europe and globally
OF A DISCUSSION DOCUMENT
tabled for the open meeting of the Advisory Committee on Tourism of 1st of October 2002
Since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, the term of Agenda 21 has characterised a comprehensive programme of action for guiding and implementing a sustainable form of development, and in particular, the related process to draft, agree and implement it.
Meanwhile, Agenda 21 type instruments are used to guide and implement sustainable development at all levels of responsibility, down to the local and corporate level. This regards public authorities, private enterprise and civil society and concerns every area in which human action impacts on sustainability, both for comprehensive development and single sector economic activities. The European Union’s Strategy for Sustainable DevelopmentA Sustainable Europe for a Better World: A European Union Strategy for Sustainable Development, COM(2001) 264 of 15.5.2001 is the European level response to the global Agenda 21.
This discussion document was particularly drafted for focusing the debate that will take place on the issue of Agenda 21 – Sustainability during the European Tourism Forum 2002. It develops the links between Agenda 21 and the tourism sector as the basis for further discussion, and aims to contribute to future public and private policy-making and governance in Europe.
The document initiates a process that will involve from the beginning all stakeholders concerned, i.e. public authorities at all levels, the tourism industry and important related sectors through both their representative associations and enterprises, civil society stakeholder groups, in particular trade unions and non-governmental organisations, and international organisations dealing with tourism issues. Based on the debate at the European Tourism Forum 2002, and the conclusions to be drawn from it, the Commission wants to launch an open consultation process that will involve the various parts of the European society and will be linked to European and global Agenda 21 processes. This process is intended to result in a future Commission policy document on Agenda 21 and the European Tourism Sector to further the implementation and fulfil the objectives of the EU Strategy for Sustainable Development. It should finally lead to a future Agenda 21 agreed by all stakeholders.
The Community level example and guidance aims to encourage all stakeholders taking their commitment towards a sustainable development of tourism and to cast the basis for wide support of this goal. It should stimulate the mobilisation, at all levels and by all types of stakeholders, of the efforts and resources needed in order to face the challenges ahead and to ensure a prosperous future of European tourism through sustainability.
2.Political and economic background for an Agenda 21 for sustainable European Tourism9
2.1Basis and cornerstones9
2.2.Main characteristics and trend parameters of European tourism11
2.3.Economic, environmental and social challenges for a sustainable European tourism13
·Seasonality and global competitiveness
·Transport and infrastructure growth
·The visitor experience, satisfaction, behaviour and stakeholder awareness
2.4.European tourism stakeholders and their involvement in sustainability.17
3.Key objectives of an Agenda 21 for sustainable European Tourism19
3.1.The need to review the way in which tourism is practised21
3.2.The role of the European tourism supply and its stakeholders21
3.3.Sustainable destination development23
3.4.The support from an improved institutional framework25
4.Current approaches towards the key objectives26
4.1.Initiatives formulated at global and international level26
4.2.Europe’s global responsibility27
4.2.Reviewing the way in which tourism is practised28
4.3.The European tourism supply chain and its stakeholders, sustainable destination development, and the institutional framework29
·Governance, better regulation and policy integration
·European spatial management
·Sustainable entrepreneurship, business practice and employment
·Strong information and management tools for promoting environmentally friendly production and consumption patterns
·Sustainable transport and energy
·Wise use and management of natural resources and of heritage: protected areas and natural and cultural heritage
·Financial support for sustainable tourism development: the funds in favour of economic and social cohesion
·Implementing new technologies
·Observation and measurement
5.Possible changes, new initiatives, measures and their implementation43
Tourism and its growth have been one of the major economic and social phenomena of the twentieth century, and continue to be so. It is now an important part of the global economy and probably the largest single sector activity in the world.
Europe is the most visited tourist region in the world, with the highest tourism density. Even more, the tourism demand in Europe is forecast to grow at a rate similar to that in the past: it is expected to double during the next 20 to 25 years. Tourism is also among the largest socio-economic activities in Europe. It will remain one of the fastest growing economic sectors.
The development of tourism influences and can change very significantly the economic, social and environmental conditions of the people and areas affected by it. To ensure a bright future for European tourism and its expected growth, its development urgently needs to be made sustainable, i.e. a "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."The World Commission on Environment and Development (the "Brundtland Commission"), 1987
Given its inter-sector influence, tourism can play an important role in the process of implementing sustainable development, in particular at local level in areas where it is a main basis of economy and that receive high numbers of tourists, and in rural areas. Tourism can contribute very substantially world-wide to sustainable development, and this quite rapidly with visible results. International, regional and sub-regional co-operation can support and supplement such efforts, using broad public participation and the active involvement of business stakeholders, as well as non-governmental organisations and other groups of the civil society.
In this context, and given the challenges for the future of European tourism that arise from its growth, the European Union has engaged in the process of developing and implementing an Agenda 21 for the European Tourism sector to promote sustainable development of tourism activities in Europe. The Commission proposed this measure in November 2001 Working together for the future of European tourism, COM(2001) 665, Measure 8, and both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, in their Resolutions of 14 May and 21 May 2002 respectivelyOJ Cxxx of dd.mm.2002, p. nn; and OJ C135 of 6.6.2002, p. 1, endorsed the proposal.
Ten years after the Rio de Janeiro Conference, a considerable amount of work has already been done in this field, and a world-wide process is in place to implement Agenda 21 as a whole. However, only now, and with increased awareness of the challenges for the future of European tourism, the conditions are assembled at European level and with regard to the European tourism sector to take in hand this task with the prospect of achieving true implementation.
The Plan of Implementation adopted at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development outlines in detail actions to be taken at all levels in order to change unsustainable patterns of consumption and production for achieving global sustainable development, including the EU proposed 10-year framework for programmes in support of regional and national initiatives Chapter III. items 13 – 21 of the Plan of Implementation
http://www.johannesburgsummit.org/html/documents/summit_docs/0409_plan_final.pdf. These actions, and the objectives guiding them, are highly relevant for the tourism sector generally, and for sustainable European tourism. The Plan of Implementation also contains a clear positive message and basic orientation for action to promote sustainable tourism development as part of protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development Item 41 of the Plan of Implementation .
Taking this into account, the approach to be followed for the future Agenda 21 for sustainable European tourism and its general orientation must reflect the characteristics of the tourism sector, of the economic and social reality and of governance in Europe. This future Agenda 21 should be the European level contribution to a multi-level system of Agenda 21 practice for tourism in Europe that is characterised by subsidiarity, and lead the other levels and stakeholder groups to contributing accordingly. It cannot bring about sustainable tourism in Europe on its own, but means dealing with its implementation by addressing stakeholder activity at each level of responsibility, i.e. from a global to personal basis.
The future Agenda 21 for European Tourism must mirror the economic, environmental and social aspects and importance of the sector and its significance for sustainable development. For the application of the EU Strategy for Sustainable Development with regard to the tourism sector, it must link to Community processes and initiatives related to this strategy. Its main political aims, and those of the process linked to it, are:
Øto respond to the challenges of European tourism at the beginning of the 21st century, and to create a sound political and operational basis for its future success;
Øto provide leadership in the European context, and to shape political commitment to make tourism more sustainable;
Øto assume the European Union’s role for sustainable development in a global context, and to reflect Europe’s global responsibility for sustainable tourism, both as generating market and as home of globally acting tourism enterprises;
Moreover, given its inter-sector influence, the tourism sector could also for Europe become a good pilot case and an important force in the process of implementing sustainable development.
Consequently, an Agenda 21 for sustainable European Tourism should:
·emphasise the dimension and the seriousness of the challenges for sustainable development of European tourism that lie ahead;
·focus on aspects that are specific for Europe and the EU institutional framework, and put forward an approach for addressing sustainable tourism issues at the EU level: which Community instruments and measures are available, and which ones need to be improved or developed;
·offer general guidance for sustainable tourism, in particular to tourist destinations and tourism enterprises, reflecting the local focus of implementation through instruments such as local Agenda 21 for tourism, and sustainable tourist products.
This discussion document starts with an overview on the political and economic background for an Agenda 21 for sustainable European Tourism, which also refers to the structure and characteristics of European tourism and to its main trend parameters for the future, with regard to sustainable development.
Hence, to ensure sustainability of European tourism, the key objectives proposed for such an Agenda 21 are outlined. This is followed by a summary and an assessment of the current approaches towards them in the existing legislative and guidance framework, in particular with regard to EU policy.
A final version of this discussion document will present, in a summarised way, the next steps that could be taken if there is sufficient agreement on the analysis and main trends of European tourism, and on the key objectives to be achieved for its sustainable development. These steps could include:
－the identification of new initiatives or measures to be taken at EU level, in addition to those already defined;
－the proposal for an implementation concept involving all stakeholders at each level of responsibility;
－the development of the tools, in particular indicators, for a regular monitoring, evaluation and reporting of this process, in order to ensure its long-term validity.
This last part will be drafted after the first discussion at the open meeting of the Advisory Committee on Tourism, which will be held 1st of October next. A non-exhaustive, indicative list of major open issues for discussion under these three main future steps is presented at the end of this preliminary version of the draft discussion document.
Political and economic background for an Agenda 21 for sustainable European Tourism
2.1.Basis and cornerstones
The development of an Agenda 21 for European tourism can build upon a significant amount of work that has been done over the past 10 years. It acknowledges the important processes and principles that are already outlined in these documents and which apply equally to the European Union as elsewhere. These documents are mainly:
–the global Agenda 21 process, in particular the Plan of Implementation adopted at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and the UN Commission for Sustainable Development’s (CSD) 1999 decision on sustainable development and tourismCSD General Assembly 1999 decision 7/3 on tourism and sustainable development http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/tour2.htm#dec;
–the WTTC/WTO/Earth Council Agenda 21 for the Travel and Tourism IndustryAgenda 21 for the Travel & Tourism Sector, World Travel & Tourism Council / World Tourism Organisation/ Earth Council, 1996 and the World Tourism Organisation Global Code of EthicsGlobal Code of Ethics for Tourism, World Tourism Organisation, 1999;
–multi-stakeholder initiatives, such as the UNEP/UNESCO/WTO supported Tour Operators’ Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Developmenthttp://www.toinitiative.org/, and tourism specific reports and documents prepared by global stakeholders for the WSSD processsuch as the report Industry as a partner for sustainable development: Tourism, World Travel & Tourism Council / International Federation of Tour Operators / International Hotel & Restaurant Association / International Council of Cruise Lines / UNEP, 2002;
–tourism-related work in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversityhttp://www.biodiv.org/programmes/socio-eco/tourism/, in particular the guidelines of 2001;
–the European Union’s Sustainable Development Strategy and EU strategic documents on key issues, such as sustainable development of tourism in the developing countriesA European Community strategy to support the development of sustainable tourism in the developing countries, COM(98) 563 of 14.10.1998, and Council Resolution of 30.11.1998 on Sustainable tourism in developing countries http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/lex/en/1998/res_98_tourism.htm, the European Spatial Development PerspectiveESDP European Spatial Development Perspective – Towards Balanced and Sustainable Development of the Territory of the European Union, European Commission 1999 , the 6th Environmental Action ProgrammeEnvironment 2010 – Our Future – Our Choice Sixth Environmental Action Programme, COM(2001) 31 of 24.1.2001 http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/newprg/index.htm, the White Paper European transport policy for 2010 : time to decideCOM(2001) 370 of 12.09.2001, and the Commission Communication Concerning Corporate Social Responsibility: A business contribution to Sustainable Development COM(2002) 347 of 2.7.2002.
Based on the general definition of sustainable development, and reflecting the understanding that also sustainable tourism development is founded on three pillars: economic, environmental, and social sustainability, the 1996 Agenda 21 for the Travel and Tourism Industry defines sustainable tourism development as follows:
“Sustainable Tourism development meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems.’
This requires implementing sustainable development and management solutions by integrating and balancing these considerations and respecting basic principles, such as the precautionary principle, intra- and inter-generation equity, and the responsibility for the preservation of the environment and natural resources for future generations.
Highly dependent on the quality of its playing field, as its business is based on selling positive experiences, the tourism sector has a fundamental reliance on aesthetic landscapes and cultural assets, functional eco-systems, services and business systems in order to provide this experience. These elements and the people linked to them – workers, tourists, local residents – form the resource potential of the tourism industry.
It is the tourist destination and the process resulting in the tourist’s overall experience that form the tourist product. In Europe, and in particular within the European Union, the development of transport facilities and infrastructure and the achievements of free movement and the Internal Market, making mass tourism easier, favour and accompany the rapid growth of tourism that results in several categories of product development. (i) Traditional tourist destinations continued to expand, in some cases reaching a point of saturation, or even facing a certain decline in their importance. (ii) New destinations, in particular in remote or formerly less accessible areas grew to a point where they now attract large numbers of tourists. (iii) Smaller destinations can be found throughout the European Union, although less frequented.
Responsible destination development and management and responsible business activity are the cornerstones of sustainable tourism. A strong economic pillar can in turn strengthen structural elements of environmental and social processes affected by tourism sector economic performance. The economic growth of the sector can be harnessed to develop a powerful synergy with them. Promoting Agenda 21 to the local tourist destinations and to the two million European tourism businesses ranging from mainly small and micro enterprises to some large corporate companies, is a principal process linked to the competitiveness of the European tourism industry.
The conditions in Europe not only facilitate, but require that it be the local tourist destinations and the tourism industry who assume final implementation responsibility for sustainable tourism activities and development, and commit themselves to it. This entails regional and local authorities and tourism enterprises acting with responsibility. It must also involve the individual tourist behaving in a responsible, sustainable manner.
Moreover, the development of the European tourism sector is in a complex manner linked to the current state of global conditions. European tourism stakeholders operate in a global economy, and Europeans visit all parts of the world to consume tourist products. European destinations compete globally, and European companies do so within the world tourism regions, offering European residents holidays abroad, attracting inbound tourism and developing business opportunities outside Europe. Thus, the European Union stakeholders have to assume responsibility for sustainable tourism, also outside Europe, with the consequent need for a globally relevant approach.
This requires focusing on the global sustainable development strategies that are being implemented, which involve specific responses from the tourism sector. An Agenda 21 for European tourism must have regard to the overall state of this global operational base in order to take account of the pressures that influence the future development of the tourism sector, including the ever increasing competition that the European tourism product faces at world level. It also must reflect the responsibilities that Europe and European stakeholders have for sustainable tourism development in the global context.
The contemporary picture of global change processes addressed by Agenda 21 indicates that preservation of the environment and good social conditions should be the central theme of a successful sustainable tourism implementation process. If European regional cultural identities, European cultural assets, landscapes, habitats and biological diversity, and a favourable social framework are to exist for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations, then tourism stakeholders need to recognise the need to preserve and improve this base of the industry.
2.2.Main characteristics and trend parameters of European tourism
Since 1980 the tourism boom has doubled the tourism volume in Europe. Currently the nearly 380 million EU citizens undertake each year some 530 million tourist trips, excluding day trips, for which they travel an estimated total of nearly one trillion (1012) passenger-km. This corresponds to nearly one and a half trips per citizen a year, with an average duration of some 5 days at a destination about 900 km from the usual place of residence. In service terms, it means that the average EU citizen spends nearly 6 tourist nights a year in an accommodation outside his usual place of residence and travels some more than 2,500 km a year for tourism purposes. For two-thirds of the trips, he stays in the country of his usual residence, and during something over 20%, he visits another EU country. On average, these 470 million EU citizen trips within the EU, whether domestic or not, last some 4 days with a single distance of some more than 500 km.
Currently, EU citizens make 60 million trips a year to visit a tourist destination in third countries, slightly more in other European countries outside the EU than overseas. On average, the destination is located some 3,500 km from the usual place of residence, and the EU tourist spends 10 days there. In return, inbound tourists from these countries, nearly 60% of them from overseas, spend something over than 200 million nights a year in the European Union.
non- EU citizens to the EU
accommodation arrivalsnightstripsaccommodation arrivalsnights
|inside EU tourism
||D, E, F, I, UK3003231.011estimated ca. 3092211
||other EU countries
outside EU tourism
|estimated ca. 420in mio.,
based on Eurostat data
If available, some more statistical information regarding the nature of demand (travel purposes, age classes, types of tourism – individual /package -, modes of transport etc.) as well as on tourism spending and spending patterns.
The large-scale tourism flows within the European Union are for holiday purposes. Those that cross national borders mainly carry citizens from the northern part of Europe to southern destinations, particularly to the coast, but also to the mountains or other areas with attractive landscapes and/or cultural heritage. The high peak of this tourism is concentrated on the summer season. A second, less important peak lies in the early months of the year, for reasons of winter sports or searching warmer regions. Accordingly, tourism in Europe is primarily concentrated on coastal regions and islands, the Alpine arc, and in cities and agglomerations where business tourism, cultural tourism and that for visiting friends and relatives meet (see map).
In the European Union, the tourism core business is conducted by over two million enterprises, mostly of small and medium-size, providing employment for 7.7 million people, a figure estimated to rise by approximately 15 % over the next ten years. The consequent social and environmental effects of tourism development are clearly visible in the European regional economies and landscapes concerned.
The type of accommodation used can be significant for the tourism consumption patterns. Throughout the whole European Union, about two-third of the nights are spent in hotels and similar establishments. However, in terms of economic, environmental and social impact and sustainability it is interesting to notice the regionally very different shares of campsites, holiday dwellings or other types of accommodation, which in certain destinations count for a clear majority of tourism.
There are no signs that, within the framework of future growth, the ratio between domestic, intra-EU and outbound trips of European citizens would change significantly. Also the growth of EU-inbound tourism is likely to fit into this overall trend, whereas it is expected to benefit from new inbound markets, such as from China. In Europe, even more people will practice tourism, and this on a more regular basis. The demographic change of the European population, i.e. shifts in the importance of age classes, which is already reflected in the expected quantitative growth, will also influence the share between the different types of tourism that are in demand. Currently, tourism focusing on experiences related to natural and cultural heritage is the largest growing segment in Europe, and it is expected to continue to be so.
If available, estimates concerning future growth in relation to frequency and duration of trips, and to the distance between the usual place of residence and the destination. Shifts between travel purposes, modes of transport etc.
The enlargement of the European Union and improved economic conditions should result in a higher growth of tourism demand in the new Member States. Although this demand is likely to favour largely domestic tourism, it will also trigger significantly more trips from these countries to the leading and well-known destinations in the current 15 EU-countries, in particular to the southern European coasts and the most important tourist cities.
Tourism of citizens living in the current EU countries to destinations in the enlargement countries will also show significant grow. However, the absolute figures of this growth need to be seen in relation to the overall volume of tourism and current direction of tourism flows in Europe, which will not change fundamentally. Nevertheless, enlargement will provide good prospects for some distinct destinations in this part of Europe, and it offers a particularly good opportunity to implement sustainable tourism development in these destinations, which might be exemplary for the rest of Europe.
The key to achieving the benefits from tourism, and to overcoming threats such as cheap alternative destinations and price competition, is providing quality tourism. This is particularly important for Europe. In addition to quantitative growth, there is a clear qualitative development of tourism demand, and quality in the tourism sector in most countries is becoming increasingly important. A growing number of tourism enterprises already have quality policies, which are more and more developed. Likewise, quality management and specific quality systems at destination level are regarded as being vital. It is increasingly considered crucial to put sustainability at the core of quality.
However, the continued growth of the industry threatens the resource and quality base upon which the industry develops and operates. Although mainly due to influences from outside the tourism sector, the loss of regional cultural and natural heritage pushes European tourism towards a more uniform and global product, losing authenticity and distinctiveness. The process of homogenisation is seen as detrimental to the quality and long-term competitiveness of the sector, as well as having a negative impact on local environments. However, tourism can help to mark the difference, for the benefit of local communities, beyond its own interest. Tourism development with an eye to the future requires the preservation and re-establishment of the regional identity of destinations, as well as conservation of their environmental attributes. This allows the maintenance of quality and product differentiation for the visitor experience, and ensures a viable market place for the industry to utilise in the long term.
The growth of tourism development in Europe will continue to have a significant spatial impact. Despite relative changes from new demand of regional populations currently participating less in tourism and for less frequented destinations, the current large-scale tourism flows and the spatial distribution and concentration of tourism in Europe can be expected rather to intensify in absolute terms. That means continued tourism economic concentration in the north of Europe, and the southern European coasts undergoing the biggest destination development and growth. In particular mass tourism destinations should urgently follow sustainable tourism concepts in order to cope with the numbers of tourists and not risk decline.
2.3.Economic, environmental and social challenges for a sustainable European tourism
It is the sheer scale and complexity of tourism intensity and growth that underline the need to manage future changes by balancing economic, environmental and social considerations. In many parts of Europe, tourism has had an enormous impact on the economic, social and environmental conditions and continues to do so. On the one hand, this concerns the infrastructure and the traffic needed to transport tourists between residence and tourist destination. It also concerns the development of the tourism industry and of these destinations resulting in new economic opportunities, new forms and intensity of land use, urbanisation and high numbers of services and workforce needed to respond to the tourist demand.
Besides its various positive effects, certain negative impacts accompany massive tourism growth in Europe, not only in environmental and social terms, but also in economic terms. In the past, the majority of both tourists and local populations accepted them in view of the individual, social and economic well-being and advantages linked to tourism. Two phenomena generally characterise tourism in Europe: mostly a high spatial concentration of tourist transport and tourist destination development, and an ever increasing penetration of tourism also into remote areas and such having in the past maintained a special identity. So far, consequences from both could to a large extent still be buffered. Also the services and their quality could mainly follow the pace of the growth and change of tourism demand in Europe.
For the future, however, the forecast growth in Europe will not be possible if the past patterns known remain the same. One crucial point is that transport in Europe could hardly cope with such growth. Furthermore, basic assets of European tourism, which are largely based on natural and cultural resources, risk losing attractiveness where overcrowded, and even being damaged where their carrying capacity is not respected. Attractiveness also suffers where local identity and originality diminishes. The quality and variety of the European tourist product, which the mainly small-scale structured European tourism industry provides, is a characteristic asset that is at risk from growth if tourism development in Europe continues to follow the paths of the past.
·Seasonality and global competitiveness
Beside the sheer quantity and growth of European tourism, its seasonality is the biggest basic obstacle for sustainable tourism in Europe. High season operation caters for peak demand, and this can overcrowd a destination’s short-term capacity to receive guests and provide services. Off-season operation leaves over-capacity in infrastructure and enterprises, mitigated by seasonal employment and adapted product supply and demand patterns. However, as seasonality is linked to the weather and the rhythm of societal functioning, the scope for temporally spreading tourism in Europe is limited.
Consequently, structural weaknesses affect sector performance and competitiveness. Enterprises often see only a small window of opportunity to make profits, and this period is one of intense activity. The seasonal employment, the stress on the workforce during high season, and the unfavourable conditions regarding time and place of work, together with unsteady income, in turn lead to difficulties in attracting and maintaining the work force, and for the employees themselves. Although qualified workforce is a key issue of tourism performance, all these parameters result in insufficient investment, both of work force and of enterprises, in better qualification of certain categories of workforce that are particularly exposed to the consequences of high seasonality. Shortage in workforce, also in less skilled segments, is one of the fundamental bottlenecks for tourism in Europe, in particular for the accommodation and catering sub-sector that provides about three-quarters of all jobs in the tourism industry.
Being competitive, achieving economic viability and reducing individual costs have so far in the tourism sector significantly involved the masking and the externalisation of costs. This holds both in economic terms and where social or environmental responsibilities have been shifted to the public sector or have been geographically transferred. To a certain extent, the tourism supply currently ensures economic performance at the expense of environmental and social equilibrium. The effects are felt particularly at the local level and in a trend towards a standardised mass tourism product. This problem must be solved, but in such a way that the inclusion of full environmental and social costs in destination and corporate costs does not render the European tourism sector less competitive in global terms. The approach to use should be increased competitiveness through sustainability, thus allowing the tourism supply chain to assume responsibilities and costs that currently are externalised.
·Transport and infrastructure growth
As an industry for which travelling is essential, the tourism sector depends heavily on transportation. This contributes significantly to the growth of traffic, to an infrastructure also designed to support this sector, and to the well-known negative impacts linked to both at all geographical levels. At the same time, besides the limitations with regard to tourist destinations, transportation is the main bottleneck for tourism growth in Europe. There are very serious doubts, whether future transport development in Europe will be able to cope with the forecast doubling of tourism volume over the next 20 to 25 years.
The destination is the target of tourism, the place where tourism demand and supply meet and tourism activities occur. Together with tourism transport, the destination is the tourism product. Developing tourist destinations, tourism installations and activities uses resources and contributes to urbanisation and changed forms of land use in sites of landscape, natural, cultural and historic interest. This bears the risk that resources, land and features of interest are seriously affected, overused or even lost.
The location and quality of destination development and tourism land use are often linked with property and construction interests that might be based on unsustainable economic and political imperatives. Local decision-making can have difficulties in balancing these interests with local governance and community responsibility, in particular when national and/or regional economic and political priorities are exclusively based on structural growth and GDP arguments.
An acute problem, in particular in drier regions, can be water consumption and wastewater discharge resulting from tourism. In both respects, tourist behaviour usually results in significantly higher levels per person than for permanent residents. Similar is the situation regarding energy consumption and waste. However, it is largely the (waste)water issue that is a key to further destination development.
The difficulty in delinking the use of resources and land development from tourism interests is part of the problem of achieving sector growth with less environmental and social degradation. Certain types and levels of infrastructure development are essential to a destination’s ability to deliver the visitor experience. The difficulty lies in judging the extent of this process, and in guiding towards common sustainability the single economic interests that promote destination expansion.
Within destinations, overall levels of pollution, social problems, and poorly planned and managed infrastructure may prejudice the efforts of enterprises to provide a quality product. Homogenised, unsound tourism development reflects badly on the overall offer, which in turn negatively affects the potential customer base. Poor carrying capacity and environmental impact studies, the subjective aesthetic value of the local conditions, and rivalling points of view of different stakeholders currently leave decision-makers with little guidance on the direction that destination development should take to be sustainable.
The regional importance of tourism widely varies throughout Europe. In certain places tourism is vital for the development of local and regional economies, especially in areas with a high concentration of tourism, and in rural areas that are looking for alternatives to substitute activities and income linked to agriculture. However, intense tourism development may also have negative impacts on the local economy and society, i.e. when it tends towards a mono-activity and destabilises the social and cultural fabric of a destination. This gives further reasons for a balanced, sustainable approach. Some destinations have already launched this process. But there is still quite a difference in speed in moving towards sustainability throughout the regions of Europe.
·The visitor experience, satisfaction, behaviour and stakeholder awareness
The amenity, attractiveness and comfort of locations are at the heart of the product that the tourism industry offers. The “visitor experience’ of the actual product is associated with it. The information people receive before they travel, their mode of transport, their accommodation, and the activities and services they enjoy during their stay, all these factors and their quality contribute towards this experience and the visitor satisfaction. The perception by the tourist of the extent to which his expectations of the product are met by his experience defines the quality of the tourist product. To offer a quality product the satisfaction of all stakeholders is essential: the service personnel and service organisations, the shareholders, the staff dealing with environment and social problems.
Focusing on the tourist demand, sustainable tourism requires above all sustainable consumption, i.e. tourists that guide their consumption behaviour according to sustainability criteria. This means raising tourist awareness and including sustainability issues in the tourist’s expectations of the product. The industry is under pressure to develop new products, i.e. destinations, experiences and satisfaction, with the risk of unsustainable development. If a change in the tourist demand and expectations can be achieved, it will also be possible to link visitor satisfaction and product quality to sustainability, in the sense of sustainable consumption.
Implementing sustainable development needs social responsibility beyond thinking in categories of short-term individual profit. This holds for all tourism stakeholders, tourists included. However, the attitudes that are required to achieve this are not yet part of mainstream thinking. Institutions which reproduce and reaffirm values and attitudes need to carry their societal messages still more towards sustainable development, also with regard to tourism, and must be encouraged to do so.
More immediately, businesses themselves require information, awareness-raising and training on the means to implement sustainable development, which is neither accessible on a wide scale, nor possible in terms of time and resource constraints experienced within the fierce competition of the business sector.
European tourism stakeholders and their involvement in sustainability
Different and numerous tourism stakeholders interact in the medium of a complex product and service supply chain that offers end-users their tourism products and services. The key stakeholders are those fulfilling the roles of: policy makers and destination management; suppliers of tourist sub-products; commercial intermediaries; training suppliers; the guests, and the host population. Dealing with the management of the tourism supply chain involves a European-wide assessment of the impact of the two million European tourism businesses ranging from mainly small and micro enterprises to some large corporate companies, at the destination level.
tourism sector stakeholders
||1.EC, national, regional and local administrations
2.National, regional and local tourism information offices
||1.Federations representing tourist industry sectors
2.Catering sector (restaurant, cafe, bar, etc.)
4.Attractions and activities3
5.Tourist Guide services
|D.Commercial Intermediaries in Tourism Industry
|E.Universities, Research bodies and consultancies
||Public, private, public-private and NGOs4
|F.Hosts and guests
1-Policy makers (to be interpreted in a broad sense; not only those in charge of drafting legislation) have the role of defining the framework
-Social partners have the role of advocating for the interests of the two main components of the industry: workers and federations of industry sub-sectors
-Tourism suppliers are to provide the final product
-Commercial intermediaries have the role of selling the product
-Universities, research bodies and consultancies should be dealing with the development and provision of knowledge to the sector, and
-Hosts and guests (e.g. local population fora, consumer organisations and other economic sectors related to tourism) are those who practice and are affected by tourism.
2Whenever possible Tourist suppliers can be approached through their respective Federations, at the most appropriate level.
3All those who are offering something that makes people come to the place (not only entertainment).
4NGOs: e.g. nature conservation organisations.
Particular attention should be given to the role of financial and insurance companies in providing the means for achieving sustainability in tourism.
The concept of a stakeholder sustainability supply chain for the tourism sector, further identifies and substantiates the subject matter requiring policy improvements. The tourism stakeholder model displays the potential interaction of stakeholders in the provision of the tourism product (the visitor experience). It also shows on which geographical scale they operate.
In the multi-stakeholder report Industry as a partner for sustainable development – Tourism “World Travel & Tourism Council / International Federation of Tour Operators / International Hotel & Restaurant Association / International Council of Cruise Lines / UNEP, 2002 the position of the tourism industry is clearly defined. There is a need to move from the existing ad hoc sector approach, to one that can develop new integrated patterns of managing travel and tourism businesses in a more systematic manner. The report says this has not been possible up to now because of the fragmented nature of the industry, and its low profit margins. This has resulted in “a deficiency of accountability’ in both the private and public sectors. The report states that the lack of responsibility in the sector is leading, at an ever-increasing rate, to an eventual environmental, economic and cultural crisis.
3.Key objectives of an Agenda 21 for sustainable European tourism
To a large extent, sustainable tourism development depends on general sustainability strategies and those implemented for the wide range of specific policy fields that affect tourism, such as transport, employment, development of the environment and use of natural resourcesFor the European Union, nine sectors (Transport, Energy, Agriculture, Industry, Internal Market, Development, Ecofin, Fisheries and General Affairs) dispose currently of a specific policy basis to take into account the long-term objectives of the EU Strategy for Sustainable Development and the medium-term objectives of the 6th Environmental Action Programme. http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/enveco/integration/integration_update.htm. The general purpose of a future Agenda 21 for sustainable European Tourism aims to ensure that all tourism stakeholders act sustainably and that the sector significantly contributes to a comprehensive, cross-sector approach to sustainability.
The documents of the global sustainable development process since Rio de Janeiro, the EU Strategy for Sustainable Development and the various other EU strategic documents on central and sector issues in relation to sustainable development contain key objectives which need also to be applied to the tourism sector or are particularly relevant for it. Moreover, key objectives are already largely formulated in the various tourism specific documents at global level. A future Agenda 21 for sustainable European Tourism must focus on adding or formulating more specifically those elements that are specific for Europe and its tourism sector.
The Plan of Implementation adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development provides many elements to be key objectives and measures of a future Agenda 21 for sustainable European tourism. This regards in particular the Plan’s chapter on changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, but also numerous aspects of other chapters, such as that on protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development and that on the institutional framework for sustainable development. Particularly relevant tourism specific documents issued in the global context comprise the global Agenda 21 for the Travel and Tourism Industry, the UN-CSD decision on sustainable development and tourism and WTO Global Code of Ethics, the Tour Operators’ Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development and the multi-stakeholder Tourism Industry Report.
Seen together, these documents, be them general, sectoral or tourism specific, have very convergent messages regarding key objectives that are valid for the sustainable development of tourism. This largely common view can guide the definition of the key objectives of a future Agenda 21 for sustainable European Tourism. It suggests that two goals are at the core of sustainable development of tourism in Europe:
·a growth of European tourism, from which environmental degradation and resource consumption are significantly delinked, and
·economically and socially balanced benefits from European tourism.
In the first place, achieving these two goals requires a basic rethinking of the way that Europeans practice tourism. Practical implementation largely needs to be focused on the different elements of the tourism supply chain and on destinations as level of action. It involves responsible tourism entrepreneurship for sustainability, and integrated sustainability initiatives for tourist destinations, in the form of local Agenda 21. But, it must be clearly seen that efforts undertaken by tourism enterprises and tourist destinations at the local and regional level also depend on national and Community measures to favour sustainable tourism.
Thus, there is a set of specific objectives to be met with regard to:
These aspects are strongly inter-linked, with interdependency and reciprocity of effects. Furthermore, the efforts to be undertaken in this respect and their success are clearly linked to institutional framework requirements, although most of them are beyond the scope of action for the tourism sector and therefore rather must be considered as necessary conditions, but intangibles.
Key objectives for sustainable European tourism
ØReviewing the way in which tourism is practised.
ØBuilding on the European tourism supply chain and its stakeholders.
A competitive and responsible European tourism industry.
Customer well-being in the centre of concern of European tourism.
Employment and job creation: sustainable work force and quality employment conditions.
A tourist product that is produced and enjoyed with a low use and consumption of natural resources and production of waste and waste water.
Creating benefits for the population of tourist destinations.
ØSustainable European tourist destinations.
An intensity and growth of tourism in the European destinations that does not exceed their carrying capacity.
Economically healthy European tourist destinations: balanced tourism competitiveness and a diverse tourism offer across Europe.
European tourist destinations that deliver quality and customer satisfaction.
Regional economic and social cohesion and rural development in Europe through tourism development.
4A healthy ratio between the tourism volume and the input needed to transport tourists, in particular with regard to highly polluting and energy consuming modes of transport.
As the European transport has only a limited capacity to cope with growth rates in passenger transport, this target is not only crucial for environmental sustainability, but also for future economically sustainable tourism in Europe. It is directly linked to issues such as reduced need for tourism travel; environmentally less harmful tourism transport through intermodal shift, clean public transport – in particular by rail – and lower fuel consumption; controlled and better managed growth of tourism air transport, including reduced air traffic congestion.
Delinking environmental degradation and resource consumption from the growth of European tourism requires sustainable tourism consumption patterns of European citizens which make tourism transport environmentally sounder through longer stays and a favourable combination between the distance to the destination and the environmental impact of the mode of transport chosen. It also is related to effective transport planning and management; improved transport systems, efficiency and safety; and the use of Intelligent Transport Systems.
4Temporal spreading of European tourism.
The leisure tourism of European citizens, in particular its additional volume should be spread more equally over the year, and the high peaks reduced. Progress in this respect not only has a high economic and social importance, but also supports the move towards tourism in Europe that is environmentally less burdening.
This review needs as its first main approach to raise awareness about the pollution and energy consumption linked to tourism transport, about the disadvantages of temporally concentrated tourism, and how adapted consumption patterns can reduce both. Linked to this, there is secondly the possibility of a European tourism offer that favours an environmentally less burdening tourism transport, the temporal spreading of tourism, and generally sustainable tourism. Finally, despite the limitations of seasonal weather conditions and the rhythm of societal functioning in European countries, the possibilities which still exist for the further staggering of holidays could be examined.
3.2.The role of the European tourism supply chain and its stakeholders
4A competitive and responsible European tourism industry.
A sustained economic growth of the European tourism industry, which provides a source for wealth and employment in Europe, needs competitive and sustainable tourism enterprises, a diversified ‘enterprise landscape’ and unrestricted competition in the European tourism sector, in the market economy. Furthermore, the tourism industry must have the economic strength to contribute to economic cohesion throughout Europe and to poverty alleviation in the world.
4Customer well-being in the centre of concern of European tourism.
The performance of the tourism supply chain enterprises is crucial for the experience of the tourists and the quality of the tourist product. The tourists’ interests, as far as those are compatible with sustainability, are the basis for a sustainable business relation between the enterprises and their customers. Sustainable quality services reflect these interests and offer value for money. Furthermore, the tourism supply chain and their enterprises must contribute to societal objectives of sustainable tourism, such as social justice and the inclusion in tourism activities of disadvantaged and disabled people, also known as ‘tourism for all’.
4Employment and job creation: sustainable work force and quality employment conditions.
Employment and workforce are vital for the economic sustainability of the European tourism industry. In social terms, sustainable tourism is linked to quality employment at all stages of the supply chain, to ensuring fair pay, good working conditions and equal opportunities, to the possibility of further learning among the work force, and to social inclusion in the work processes of the tourism supply chain.
Tourism enterprises can develop and maintain a sustainable work force only with adequate employment and working conditions; attracting, retaining and developing skilled labour in the sector. One of the key strategic objectives of developing the work force sustainably is to use the growth in tourism jobs for promoting a maintained and skilled local workforce and social inclusion. In this sense sustainable tourism is a force for social cohesion throughout Europe and for social progress world-wide, within the same society as well as between different cultures.
4A tourist product that is produced and enjoyed with a low use and consumption of natural resources and production of waste and waste-water.
Beside improved transport, environmentally sound tourism supply requires low input of material and waste prevention; low water and energy intensity, high water and energy efficiency and saving; use of clean energy and high share of renewables in energy consumption. This concerns mainly the accommodation and catering sector, and tourism attractions and activities with a significant use and consumption of water and energy or generation of waste. Regarding water and waste-water the regionally different conditions in Europe require focusing attention particularly on the southern European and island destinations.
4Creating benefits for the population of tourist destinations.
Tourism development should benefit the residents of host destinations, and tourism enterprises must contribute to the quality of life for workers and residents. All enterprises of the tourism supply chain bear responsibility for ensuring that tourism development and activities have no negative impact on resident populations.
The overall sustainable tourism process should contribute to positive cultural exchange and the integration of nations, fostering values of peace, learning and respect. Any contrary behaviour, in particular the abuse, exploitation or disregard of human beings must be totally banned from tourism. The enterprises of the European tourism industry must feel fully responsible in this respect, for tourism in all parts of the world, however small their contribution to the particular supply.
Progress towards these objectives requires sustainable tourism entrepreneurship and responsible tourism enterprises, which includes a participatory approach and the involvement of staff and customers. But to be successful in this approach, and not to punish enterprises that follow it, economic profit needs to be delinked from environmental and social costs, and a level playing field of sustainable development must exist. A particular aspect is the management of environmental impact and resource consumption in the European tourism supply chain. Important efforts to be undertaken within the tourism supply chain can also be seen in the fields of training and education and the promotion of environmentally friendly production and consumption patterns. Special attention should be paid to the exchange of knowledge, partnership, innovation and the implementation of new technologies.
3.3.Sustainable destination development
4Economically healthy European tourist destinations: balanced tourism competitiveness and diverse tourism offer across Europe.
Sustained economic growth of European tourist destinations is a source of wealth, employment and well-being of their population. Sustainable destinations means those that are competitive, diverse and not standardised. The preservation of regional diversity with a strong local enterprise content in the face of globalisation is to be seen as a key objective of Agenda 21 for sustainable European tourism.
To this end, a healthy and sustainable tourism enterprise structure requires a diversity of competitive businesses operating at the destination level. Excessive movement towards either horizontal or vertical integration of business enterprise may create dominant positions of corporate companies over tourist destinations and their SME basic providers, homogenise the visitor experience and limit consumer choice.
As enterprises do, so tourist destinations also compete among each other and need conditions of fair competition and a level playing field of sustainable development to make best use of their endogenous potential for tourism. In principle, these conditions and the functioning of the free market must be the same for all European destinations. The distribution of tourism services throughout Europe needs to reflect the polycentric requirements of an integrated but diverse European landscape.
4An intensity and growth of tourism in the European destinations that does not exceed their carrying capacity.
Carrying capacity is decisive for all destination specific issues related to environmental degradation and consumption or pollution of natural resources, be they water, soil, air, land or biological diversity. The key issues are the approaches and instruments to ensure that tourism in a destination does not exceed the carrying capacity, to make best use of the given carrying capacity and maybe increase it.
Any consideration about intensity and growth of tourism in European destinations in relation to carrying capacity must take particular account of the European coastal zones that are a key strategic asset of the European tourism sector. The same can be said of European protected areas, where Europe’s natural diversity has been set aside for conservation. The question here is how tourism and destination development must be oriented, so that these already fragmented areas, given their size, number and status, can survive the foreseen increase in European economic activity.
European cultural heritage is perhaps the leading resource and asset of European tourism. Whether in the form of monuments, sites or traditions, cultural heritage needs careful preservation. This should be done not only because it is a key tourism product offer, but also because the preservation of heritage ensures that resident communities maintain their own collective memory, and can derive their own continued sense of regional identity. With certain adaptations, methods dealing with the carrying capacity of natural resources can also be used for physical cultural heritage, such as monuments or other cultural sites or objects.
The concept of carrying capacity also must be used for the other cultural, social and economic conditions in a destination, and to man-made elements of the tourism system, such as transport and other infrastructure within and in the surroundings of a tourist destination. Therefore, approaches and instruments must address the overall carrying capacity of a destination, from all different aspects.
4European tourist destinations that deliver quality and customer satisfaction
The destination is the tourist product, and those responsible for destinations are stakeholders for ensuring the experience and satisfaction of tourists, i.e. its quality. The satisfaction of tourists staying at a destination does not just depend on their experiences of tourist services delivered by each element of the tourism supply chain, but also on more general factors. These are factors such as hospitality, safety and security, sanitation and salubrity, traffic and visitor management.
Quality guarantees that tourism sector activities provide sufficiently high returns on per capita demand, and it curbs the excessive growth and impact of low margin mass tourism. This does not mean merely developing the luxury end of the market, as sustainable tourism must be accessible to all income groups. Rather it means ensuring high quality at all levels of destination service provision, whether that involves hotels or campsites; private or public transport; and exclusive or open access visitor attractions.
Sustainable destinations must integrate all tourists’ interests that are compatible with sustainability and the interests of the local population. They must also contribute to achieving societal objectives of sustainable tourism, such as social justice and inclusion in tourism activities, in particular of disadvantaged and disabled people.
4Regional economic and social cohesion and rural development in Europe through tourism development.
Tourism is a motor of regional development in Europe, in particular of rural areas. To this end, the wealth generated by the tourism sector should remain within local and regional communities. This requires the development of strong regional economies that provide authentic regional products and services, and fully integrate sector activities, such as agro-forestry, fishing and local industries, in the same region.
The use of local Agenda 21 at the level of the tourist destination in Europe can guide their sustainable development. Good land-use management as well as the protection, wise use and sustainable management of vulnerable natural resources, biological diversity and natural and cultural heritage are essential. Impact assessment and the Integrated Quality Management of tourist destinations are specific instruments available. Training, education and innovation, and the promotion of environmentally friendly production and consumption patterns within the tourist destinations, are further important fields needing particular attention. Intelligent technical solutions that are locally tailored and the exchange of knowledge, partnership, and the implementation of new technologies can support the efforts towards sustainable tourist destinations.
3.4.The support from an improved institutional framework
A future Agenda 21 approach for European Tourism must mirror the competence and responsibilities that exist at the various territorial and operational levels, from global to personal reference. In a second dimension, thematic issues and processes, such as entrepreneurship, biological diversity, or learning, must be identified and taken into account, at whatever level they have been defined. As a third dimension, considerations regarding different sectors or policy fields, such as enterprise policy, trade liberalisation, environmental protection or social policy, must be dealt with in an integrated manner at all levels and with regard to all thematic issues and processes.
This framework seeks to favour sustainability by relating key institutional processes to the tourism development process. A first aspect concerns integrated mechanisms for ensuring the implementation and monitoring of global multilateral environmental agreements and tourism trade polices, and the integration of sustainable tourism policy and economic instruments into overall economic, environmental and social development strategies. An Agenda 21 for sustainable European Tourism also requires enhancing cross-sector integration of policy making at a regional level.
The use of Local Agenda 21 specifically for tourism destinations is a core issue. Competence and support for the development of knowledge and observation regarding tourism need to be mobilised, and monitoring, indicator and benchmarking systems for the supply chain and destination development to be implemented. Finally, and very importantly, achieving the triple objective of reviewing European tourism, supply chain sustainability and sustainable destination processes, requires forms of institutional transformation that favour Citizen participation in sustainable development.
The current characteristics of the tourism market place do not yet sufficiently reflect the objectives of sustainable European tourism. In many cases, the actual situation in the European tourism sector does not support them, and for some of them there is a risk of failing to achieve them within the time limits that certain problems impose. Although long-term tourism growth is threatened when continuing on a sole basis of market pricing mechanism delivering sufficient profit, actors in the market place are reluctant to reverse behaviour unilaterally. Some change of stakeholder behaviour and the achievement of sustainable tourism objectives can occur with voluntary instruments on the basis of potentially convincing argument. Where this approach fails, the use of regulatory instruments (including economic ones), that are achieved through the active involvement of other stakeholders, to promote change also needs to be examined.
It is unlikely that any single stakeholder can realise Agenda 21 key objectives on his own. However, the basis of the Agenda 21 approach requires that stakeholders be first and foremost provided with the right information from which to make informed decisions. In this instance, regulatory measures can be minimised, and stakeholder self-determination would be maximised. As such the sustainable tourism process requests that stakeholders co-operate and network effectively to prioritise their objectives according to the particular problematic aspects of a given destination or of the part of the supply chain to which they belong.
4.Current approaches towards the key objectives
Meeting the key objectives of an Agenda 21 for sustainable European tourism needs the synergetic use of a wide range of policies. Further to determining the specific approaches, instruments and good practice already developed for the tourism sector, it is necessary to identify those in other policy fields that reflect considerations of sustainability, and which might serve towards the key objectives of such an Agenda 21.
4.1.Initiatives formulated at global and international level
The multi-stakeholder Tourism Industry Report lists initiatives with which the tourism industry and certain of its major stakeholder groups have responded to sustainable tourism development, emphasising the crucial importance of strong partnerships between the different stakeholders. In parallel, the latest World Tourism Organisation (WTO) publication on Tourism and Poverty Alleviationhttp://www.world-tourism.org/cgi-bin/infoshop.storefront/EN/product/1267-1 focuses on the tourism industry’s contribution to eliminating poverty in poor countries.
The WTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism is an example of the world guiding voluntary agreement approach for responsible practices. Other guidelines at global level in this area involve the Global Reporting Initiative and the Tour Operators Initiative. However, these tend to focus on large enterprises, whereas the tourism sector requires that SMEs are also fully aware of how to implement more responsible business activity.
A wide variety of specifically relevant initiatives address the development of policies and tools to encourage green procurement, purchasing and consumption patterns. A WTO study shows the extent to which European products and services have taken a leading role in voluntary eco-labelling initiativeshttp://www.world-tourism.org/cgi-bin/infoshop.storefront/EN/product/1232-1. Such schemes are so plentiful that it is questionable whether tourists can be confident about looking for guidance on sustainable consumption. Alongside these initiatives, the ISO 9000 family on quality management systems and ISO 14000 family on environmental management are particularly relevant to the tourism sector http://www.iso.org/iso/en/iso9000-14000/iso9000/iso9000index.html
The IUCN bio-region approach, mirrored in the UNEP/CBD principles and guidelines for sustainable tourismhttp://www.uneptie.org/pc/tourism/policy/cbd_guidelines.htm, and the Council of Europe European Landscape Conventionhttp://www.nature.coe.int/english/main/landscape/conv.htm offer clarification on the approach to ensure the preservation of the regional diversity of Europe as one of the cornerstones for sustainable European tourism.
Most importantly, the UN Local Agenda 21 process offers guidance for local territorial management, i.e. in tourist destinations, forging the use of monitoring and indicator systems to ensure the quality of sustainable development. Moreover, the World Tourism Organisation has produced guidelines on sustainable tourism for local authoritieshttp://www.world-tourism.org/cgi-bin/infoshop.storefront/EN/product/1016-1.
With these global and international initiatives kept in mind, existing EU policies and programmes are hereafter in the focus of examining the synergies that can already now be used for the implementation of an Agenda 21 for sustainable European Tourism. Additional policies and programmes from all stakeholders can be associated with these in the process of refining implementation procedures.
4.2.Europe’s global responsibility
In accordance with the current work of most international organisations, the European Union has assumed responsibility for using tourism as an important tool to fight poverty and improve social conditions, especially in the world’s poorest countries. This issue largely regards the field of external relations, in particular Development Policyhttp://europa.eu.int/comm/development/politique_en.htm and aid programmes. In 1998 the Commission presented A European Community strategy to support the development of sustainable tourism in the developing countriesCOM(98) 563 of 14.10.1998 and related Council Resolution on Sustainable tourism in developing countries http://europa.eu.int/comm/development/lex/en/pdf/res_98_tourism.pdf that provides the essential policy base in this respect. Furthermore, for a number of years Community action to support world-wide the fight against child sex tourismhttp://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/services/tourism/policy-areas/child.htmand Communications COM(96) 547 of 27.11.1996, OJ C3 of 7.1.1997, p. 2, and COM (1999) 262 of 26.05.1999 as well as Council Conclusions of 21.12.1999, OJ C379, p. 1 has been a concrete contribution to implementation. It provides an incentive for continued efforts in this field to a wide range of stakeholders.
Likewise, Europe’s global responsibility extends to sustainable trade in serviceshttp://europa.eu.int/comm/trade/index_en.htm. Among the new sector proposals to World Trade Organisation-GATS the European Community is proposing to engage World Trade Organisation members in negotiations to liberalise the tourism sector as fully as possible. In addition to implementing the existing commitments, this should result in eliminating substantially remaining restrictions to trade in this sector including those on foreign direct investment under the Agreement, without affecting the quality of service, protection of consumers, or public safety, as well as safeguarding the rule of law.
The EU policy is to have environmental considerations reflected throughout any negotiations and to use a World Trade Organisation Round for maximising potential for positive synergies between trade liberalisation, economic growth, environmental protection and social development. The Commission mainstreams sustainable development into trade policy through promoting the consistency of international trade rules with sustainability objectives and a Sustainability Impact Assessment (SAI). Sector SAI will also deal with trade in services, tourism included.
Multilateral Environmental Agreements, environmental principles, in particular the precautionary principle, and labelling are key areas where clarification between World Trade Organisation rules and instruments of environmental policy are especially important. The EU principles and considerations in this respect are the following:
－Multilateral Environmental Agreements are the best instrument for dealing with international environmental problems that know no borders. Unilateral measures to deal with global and cross-border environmental issues should be avoided.
－Internationally agreed measures to protect the environment such as Multilateral Environmental Agreements are not subordinated to trade rules.
－Environmental measures should not be abused as disguised restrictions on trade. The EU consequently opposes eco-protectionism.
Furthermore, the European Union favours strengthening international environmental governance. The reinforcement of existing international bodies that deal with environmental issues to give them greater weight and influence and make them more efficient means strengthening the international institutional framework, in particular the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in the short term. It also concerns ensuring a better co-ordination of environmental institutions and between conventions, including emphasis on improving their implementation and monitoring. The actions to promote sustainable tourism development (item 41) mentioned in the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Plan of Implementation stand for further progress.
4.3.Reviewing the way in which tourism is practised
Currently no significant initiatives aim at adapting European tourism towards the basic issues of longer stays or an environmentally better combination between the distance to the destination and the environmental impact of the mode of transport chosen. On the contrary: the trend towards more frequent travelling and short-duration trips, far destinations and the use of air transport continues and even spirals upwards. But, the efforts of making transport generally more effective and less environmentally harmful help partially to mitigate the negative effects of this trend.
However, the demographic and social changes in Europe can be expected to help temporal spreading of European tourism. More and more Europeans are less bound to respect a leisure time rhythm that depends on school holidays or work. Larger flexibility in the management of working hours, which furthermore are decreasing for large parts of the employed population, favour not only additional tourism but also its temporal spreading. Yet, this often results in short-break trips involving the use of the car or the aircraft, and thus in environmentally critical travelling.
So far, efforts to raise awareness about the pollution and energy consumption linked to tourism transport, about the disadvantages of temporally concentrated tourism, and how the tourists can reduce both through adapted consumption patterns are rather rare. Except for some first attempts of non-governmental organisations, no common tools or information are provided in a targeted manner. Neither the tourism industry nor the mass or specialised media have made this a theme.
Consequently, also the usual European tourism offer is not yet adapting to these problem areas. In many cases it is cheaper to travel far than near, and not only faster, but also easier and not much more expensive to do so by plane instead of train or boat. Furthermore, many European railway companies have reduced the part of their offer that specifically targets tourists, if the destination is not urban or in an agglomeration along a major railway route. Also the price for a long-duration tourism package is not significantly more attractive than that for just a few days or a weekend.
In all these respects, public measures that specifically target tourism are unlikely to be of significant importance and effect, or to find wide political support. With regard to the special issue of staggering holidays, a recent analysis reveals that for the EU overall these periods are already quite staggered and that only little progress is still possible at this level. The summer holidays in the northern countries are clearly earlier than in the southern, often with an additional domestic staggering. In certain cases, Member States or their regions which are responsible for fixing the holiday periods are also staggering them across national borders. But it must also be taken into account that generally the contribution of residents to tourism peaks is higher than that of foreign tourists.
4.4.The European tourism supply chain and its stakeholders, sustainable destination development, and the institutional framework
While approaches on the most basic issues are largely missing, a number of significant measures or initiatives exist or were recently launched that can help to move European tourism towards sustainability with regard to the supply chain and its stakeholders, to the tourist destinations, and to improving the institutional framework.
The White Paper on European GovernanceCOM(2001) 428 of 25.7.2001 and the follow-up package on Better RegulationCOM(2002) 275 to 278 of 5.6.2002‘ can be largely explored in view of approaches and instruments that support moves to make tourism sustainable. The White Paper outlines proposals that can help improve the institutional framework in support of an Agenda 21 for sustainable European tourism, such as a new approach to policy making guided by a coherent and long-term view and sufficient co-ordination, so that action to achieve objectives in one policy area do not hinder progress in another.
Since solutions to problems often lie in other sectors or at other levels of government, transversal integration of sector policy making and implementation is fundamental for ensuring an adequate integration of sustainable concerns in a cross-sector industry like tourism. Policy impact assessment crucially contributes to this integration. The integrated impact assessment process put forward in the Better Regulation Package will improve the quality and coherence of policy design. It will increase transparency, communication and information on the Commission’s proposals.
Sustainability governance for tourism requires taking into account regional and local knowledge and conditions when defining policy proposals that affect the sector. The Commission is to launch a number of pilot contracts with certain Member States and regional or local authorities with a view to achieving the Community’s sustainable development objectives, such as sustainable coastal management or urban mobility, in full respect of existing constitutional provisions in each Member State(see next page). It also favours the involvement of environmental NGOs to facilitate regional and local democracy.
New governance can also help to achieve a more effective implementation of European Union legislation at regional and local level by, inter alia, arrangements between the Commission and regional and local authorities, better awareness raising and exchange of available best practices. These prospects can be used by pilot tourist regions to test sustainable tourism practices through tripartite contracts, with a view for this experience to then serve as a model for extension to other regions around Europe.
Firm legal enforcement to implement legislation can be combined with transparency as a powerful way of encouraging progress by Member States and authorities that lag behind in transposing Community legislation and putting it into practice. This includes positive examples where implementation has been particularly successful and which could hold lessons for other countries, but also a “name, shame and fame’ strategy for selected pieces of legislation, where possible, together with the European Parliament. Information will be made more easily accessible in the form of a regularly up-dated implementation scoreboard.
A key field of implementing governance in favour of sustainable development of tourist destinations is the Structural Funds, for which responsibility for management is defined according to the principles of decentralisation and subsidiarity. The programming and management of European assistance brings together all development stakeholders. Continuous dialogue throughout the process brings about commitment and necessary consensus between them. Structural Funds are also an important field for good integration of environmental concerns into other policies, against which all Commission policy initiatives should be fully assessed. Progress can be measured through indicators and benchmarking. A network associating environmental authorities at national or regional level, as is practised in SpainIn its Communication on European Governance: Better lawmaking, COM(2002) 275 of 5.6.2002, the Commission announces a first stage in the experimental implementation of tripartite contracts, in order to take account of regional, urban and local contexts and to see how new forms of governance can work in practice and favour innovative, cross-border work platforms between regions and local authorities. These voluntary contracts will not involve binding legal commitments. The results of the pilot experiment will issue in a second stage, which might lead to the amendment of certain legal texts with a view to simplifying the executive arrangements and taking more account of the local contexts.
The Commission Better Regulation Package stresses the importance of involving civil society organisations into its consultation processes. They play an important role as facilitators of a broad policy dialogue. Also the 6th Environment Action Programme indicates new ways of working with a wide cross section of society in the field of environment policy. The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on “Access to information and public participation on environmental matters’http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/aarhus/index.htm lays down the basic rules to promote citizens’ involvement in environmental matters and enforcement of environmental law. Its ratification and implementation is expected to contribute to better implementation of Community legislation by the Member States.
Article 6 of the Treaty establishing the European Community requires the integration of environmental protection http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/enveco/integration/integration.htm that, accordingly, has been reflected as one of the Community priorities for implementation in the 5th Environment Action Programme and in the strategic approaches of the 6th Environment Action Programme. Eight Council formations presented resolutions, conclusions or strategies for achieving environmental integration and sustainable development within the respective policy areas. These approaches can also be relevant with regard to sustainable tourism development and as acquis, on which an Agenda 21 for sustainable European tourism can build.
A practical case of on-the-ground integration is that of Integrated Quality Management of Tourist Destinations. Commission publicationshttp://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/library/lib-tourism/index.htm identify and promote best practice in this field. They provide a practical tool for destination managers and advice and information for all stakeholders involved in tourism. This includes the aspects of healthy living conditions for resident populations in tourist destinations.