European destinations must not regard each other as competitors – Tourism Minister
Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis said European destinations must not regard each other as competitors but “we should collaborate together to achieve an even larger market share of international tourism”.
Addressing the Hotrec 73rd General Assembly on ‘The priorities of the Maltese Presidency of the EU’ today, he said it is of utmost importance that we create enabling mechanisms for the tourism sector in Europe to adapt to the evolving business environment, especially by creating targeted funding opportunities, in the current and future funding programmes, which are clearly directed to the tourism sector.
Minister Zammit Lewis said that as tourism gathers further economic pace and relevance, policy-makers are also realising the importance of listening, and working hand-in-hand, not only with those who invest, but also with those who, on a daily basis work, work within this sector. This perspective will lead to more opportunities for investment and employment across Europe as a whole.
The Minister for Tourism noted that during the recent European Tourism Forum organised by the Slovak EU Presidency two weeks ago, different methods with which the Tourism sector within Europe could be made more sustainable were discussed. This process will also serve to face the various challenges emerging from three distinct factors affecting our industry: First, the collaborative economy; second, taxation and competitiveness and, thirdly, the issue of digitisation.
Regarding the Council of the Presidency of the European Union to be held in Malta next year, the Minister for Tourism Zammit Lewis highlighted that this will probably be the biggest administrative and diplomatic challenge for us as a nation since Malta’s accession to the Union.
“In view of what Europe has been going through in recent times, together with the other members of our Trio, the focus is on what unites us. In order to achieve this aim, we need to emphatically put the citizen at the heart of our discussion”, said the Minister.
“This scarcity in the citizens’ faith in the EU, often the result of a lack of effective and timely action by European institutions – as the case of the financial and migration crisis – has to become a focal point of Malta’s Presidency.”
“As an EU state where tourism is clearly our bread and butter, we will ensure that tourism features within the agenda of the Maltese Presidency and, in this regard, our priorities are fully in synch with those of the European Commission. We will be looking at ways to strengthen European tourism by encouraging discussions for common action plans on how to maintain and boost the EU’s market share, through the improvement of the overall tourism product and more effective promotion and marketing of our offer”.
The Minister for Tourism pointed out that developments which are dominating the tourism agenda within Europe and beyond include the sharing economy, digitalisation, connectivity, seasonality, sustainability and investment in human capital.
All these developments and challenges will feature in a high-level tourism conference to be held during Malta’s presidency next year. This event will bring together an extensive cross-section of stakeholders and will serve as a platform for discussion about the future of European tourism. This conference will mainly target the structure of how Europe can, and must, adapt to evolving tourism trends in order to maintain and improve its competitive edge.