European Travel Commission Chief Says Tourism Will Trigger Economic Revival
Luís Araujo, elected as the President of the European Travel Commission in September, says the resumption of tourism will trigger economic growth and revival in the 33 European countries he now oversees in his new position.
Araujo, also the president of Turismo Portugal for the last four years, made his comments in a Q&A session with Travel Tomorrow .
He feels a profound “responsibility in leading ETC in a period when European tourism faces one of its biggest challenges, if not the biggest ever,” Araujo said.
“We need to ensure that tourism has a stronger voice in Europe, through better coordination among countries, in view of a quick and sustainable recovery of the tourism sector,” he said. “I aim to position ETC as the top influential voice in Europe and the world, leading the sector’s transformation towards responsible, sustainable, digital and resilient tourism of tomorrow. Being fully aware of the challenges we all face, I strongly believe that the long track record of ETC, together with the commitment of its members, will help us reconstruct the confidence in tourism and reinvent the sector in Europe.”
The continent has been on a virtual lockdown through restrictions on travel, particularly travel between the U.S. and Europe. Both countries missed the lucrative summer travel season, and now, with a surge in COVID-19 cases on both sides of the Atlantic, concern shifts to winter and the holidays .
Europe tends to draw many American tourists who enjoy traveling overseas, particularly for the numerous Christmas markets. Now governments have been prompted to re-impose curfews and travel restrictions while bars and restaurants sit empty in most affected areas, Araujo noted.
“The sector is getting back to the situation we had during the spring – tourism businesses across Europe are not generating any income, while they still incur fixed costs. It is a matter of time until the cash runs out,” he warned. “It is crucial now to aid and assist tourism enterprises throughout the entire travel ecosystem to save millions of livelihoods that depend on the sector. European governments should prolong state aid programs launched earlier this year and not spare financial support for workers and businesses. The industry needs fast and easy access to short- and medium-term loans to overcome liquidity shortages, fiscal relief, protection of workers from unemployment and loss of income as well as support for self-employed tourism stakeholders.”
But, Araujo remains optimistic .
“We have a real opportunity now to reinvent the tourism sector of tomorrow,” he said. “We have been talking for too long about sustainable growth, climate change, digitalization and innovation. It is the moment to press the reset button and take all these matters seriously by firmly incorporating sustainability in tourism recovery plans.”