COVID-19: EU Commissioner Thierry Breton counts on short-term financing and a reform to help tourism
22 Apr 2020

COVID-19: EU Commissioner Thierry Breton counts on short-term financing and a reform to help tourism.

The Committee on Transport and Tourism has invited the Commissioner for Internal Market, Mr Thierry Breton, for a debate on the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the tourism sector.

The exchange of views took place on Tuesday morning, 21 April 2020 the director of ISTO Europe followed the meeting digitally for you. Here are the main points.

Commissioner Mr Thierry Breton stressed the importance of tourism. In the Covid 19 outbreak, tourism was the first sector to be hit but will be also the last sector to come out. There is also an important social reality, many employees and small scaled family businesses lost their job and/or income.

Thierry Breton
Thierry Breton

Therefore the Commissioner has two important action fields:

  1. Implementing short-term financing
  2. Reforming the sector

For the short-term financing, he refers to the measures already taken by Mrs von der Leyen. He mentions the ECB and the help for liquidity problems and the European Investment Bank (EIB). There is the creation of a Corona Investment Fund that will support initiatives hit by the Corona virus and the finance of the not used credits of the other funds such as ERDF,…

In the Industrial development plan (so called Marshall plan) that the Commission is preparing he wants that 20 to 25% goes to tourism. It should be spent to an exit strategy with clear, coordinated measures.

He thinks about reinvestment in a new tourism sector of tomorrow with acceleration for resistant and sustainable tourism sector.

In the tourism of tomorrow we need to work on the digital and economic realities.

Central theme for the future is to work on a responsible, sustainable and innovative tourism. To do so he points out three pillars to work on:

  1. Tourism as core of the Green Deal.
    Maintain tourism as an ecosystem and promote proximity tourism
  2. Stimulate digitalisation in the sector;
  3. Tourism as a sector in which everything is linked (heritage, farming, culture etc…)

Mr Breton wants a Tourism Summit by the end of September- beginning of October on a future tourism that is more sustainable and innovative.

Some important items asked by the MEP’s:

  • Aspect of support of “small enterprises” and not only the bigger ones.
  • Importance of adaptation of beach concessions (in accordance to social distance)
  • Help to have European criteria for traveling within the EU.
  • Help on an exit strategy.
  • Protection of the consumers rights (booked flights but also intermediary costs) aspect of a guaranteed voucher for the client.

There was also a strong advocacy for a specific budget line for (sustainable) tourism.

Mr Breton also said there will be a conference on the COVID 19 problems with the ministers of tourism of all the EU states next week (week from 27 to 30 April).

He also mentioned that tourism will be on the agenda of the G20 summit.

To summarise the Commissioner promised help on the short time to help not only the big enterprises but also the SME’s. Therefore the existing funds will be used and all measurements will be taken to make sure the European tourism sector will survive.

For the future of tourism he wants to rethink and create a new framework he calls “reinventing Tourism” where innovation and sustainability will be important.

He expects a lot from the tourism conference of September/October for the implementation of the tourism Marshall-plan.

Luc Gobin - ISTO 22-04-2020