On 13 May, the European Commission presented a package of measures to support the tourism industry in the COVID-19 crisis and start the summer season. Many measures that formed the European boating industry’s joint call that EBI has advocated for, have been taken up. The European Commission recognises on-water recreation and nautical tourism as a key part of Europe’s tourism industry, recovery period and ready to restart following health and safety protocols.
The European Commission presented a package of guidelines and recommendations to gradually open borders and allow tourism businesses to restart while respecting health and safety measures. It encourages consumers to take advantage of the summer tourism season and help the EU tourism sector recover. It includes an overall strategy towards recovery in 2020 and beyond, a gradual lifting of border restrictions, re-establishment of transport links, criteria for restoring tourism activities and health protocols, as well as a recommendation on vouchers as alternatives to reimbursement. These guidelines and recommendations are provided to EU countries and companies for implementation.
Throughout these measures, the Commission recognises the importance of on-water recreation, and the maritime and inland waterway tourism industry. At several points, it highlights that leisure boating should not fall under a general prohibition but be allowed following a risk-based approach and implementing specific procedures, such as regular cleaning and disinfection. EU countries should lift restrictions for leisure boating based on specific health and safety protocols. The Commission specifically mentions marinas and resuming activity in these under strict health and safety conditions. The Commission recognises that domestic and intra-EU tourism will be increasingly popular and should be promoted. It sees a strong role for maritime and inland waterway tourism in this.
The announcement from the European Commission comes after many weeks of advocacy activities and dozens of virtual meetings by EBI with the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament and other members of the EU institutions. Advocacy actions were based on the joint policy paper that 19 European boating industry associations and EBI signed in early April (Link). This unity has been key to advocacy. Several boating industry associations have also prepared guidelines to facilitate the application of social distancing rules and all applicable health and safety requirements.
European Boating Industry Secretary-General Philip Easthill commented “We are a fundamentally European industry. Boating relies on open borders between countries for navigation, holiday travel and supply chains. We support the measures announced by the European Commission to gradually reopen borders and swiftly restart nautical tourism and support recovery in our sector. We have been advocating for many of these measures since the start of the COVID-19 crisis and will continue to do so. Taking the European Commission’s risk-based approach, the conditions are in place for boating, boat charter, marinas and its infrastructure to swiftly reopen under strict health and safety rules across Europe."
“When it comes to the introduction of vouchers as alternatives for reimbursement, we urge EU countries to include individual tourism activities in their scope. Nautical tourism activities, such as boat charter, must be a part of this to ensure a level playing field in the tourism industry. National and eventually a European guarantee fund could help protect consumers and support companies’ liquidity at a critical time."
EBI will continue its advocacy to ensure that the boating industry continues to be recognised and address the key issues in the COVID-19 crisis. EBI is also providing resources on the measures taken at EU-level regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. These can be found here.
The full information on the Tourism Package can be found on the website of the European Commission.
The European Tourism Manifesto alliance, the voice of the European travel and tourism sector, has issued the following statement on the implementation of urgent measures to limit the COVID-19 outbreak’s impact on the sector. European Boating Industry is a co-signatory of the statement and member of the Tourism Manifesto Coalition.
The effects of the outbreak are already being felt throughout the global economy. Economic activity has dropped, and all evidence points towards a significant downturn in areas affected by the virus. The tourism and travel sector is particularly hit. Millions of jobs are currently at stake, while many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) risk closing their business. Support for tourism must be a priority in the crisis response, recovery plans and actions of affected economies.
The European Tourism Manifesto alliance welcomes the immediate response presented by the European Commission on 13th March to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. We call for immediate implementation of these measures, which should be reinforced by additional instruments focused on the tourism sector. Action is required now to strengthen the resilience of the sector in the long run and prepare the ground for a swift recovery from this unprecedented crisis.
The European Tourism Manifesto alliance calls upon the European Commission and national governments to swiftly implement the following urgent measures:
In order to guarantee a full-speed recovery in the aftermath of the crisis, we call for the implementation of the additional following measures:
The European Tourism Manifesto alliance gathers more than 50 European public and private organisations, covering the whole tourism value chain and beyond. The alliance calls on the European Union for action on key policy priorities for the tourism sector. For more information, please visit tourismmanifesto.eu.
With Croatia currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2020, it plays a key role in the EU policy-making process and leads the policy discussions at EU level. An EBI delegation therefore met with Ambassador Goran Štefanić (Deputy Permanent Representative, Croatian Permanent Representation to the EU) and Nevenka Žiža (First Secretary for Transport, Croatian Permanent Representation to the EU) to discuss the key issues for the boating industry.
The importance of sustainability for boating industry was highlighted, including circular economy, EU funding for environmental transition and the importance of marinas as connecting point for citizens and marine environment. Furthermore, the role of tourism as an increasingly important and growing aspect of the recreational boating industry was underlined.
Several meetings of national ministers will address the issue of sustainable tourism and maritime industry during the Croatian presidency, including meetings of national Tourism Ministers and Transport Ministers. Tourism is an important element for the country’s Council presidency, and it wants to develop a European tourism brand and to develop tourism opportunities. The EBI delegation was made up of Robert Marx (Council member, EBI & President, BVWW), Yves Lyon-Caen (President, FIN) and Philip Easthill (Secretary-General, EBI).
The EBI delegation also met with the Cabinet of the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries to introduce the recreational boating industry and its key priorities at highest political level. The discussion focused on the importance of sustainability for the boating industry, the need for mutual recognition of boating and skipper licenses through a clear legal framework at EU level and the overall challenges and trends in the industry.
The first-ever Economist Sea Tourism Summit was organised ahead of boot Düsseldorf with around 200 participants discussing the future of nautical tourism. Speakers included industry leaders, policy-makers and other high-level participants. The event stood under the theme of “Navigating a sea of opportunities”. It provided many interesting panel discussions and presentations on the future of nautical tourism and the role that industry and policy-makers, as well as the positive impact of the industry. EBI was one of the sponsors of the event.
EBI President Jean-Pierre Goudant gave a keynote at the Summit, highlighting the importance of nautical tourism for economies, employment and in particular coastal and peripheral regions. He highlighted some key challenges for the industry, namely economic turbulence, adaptation to climate change, changing consumer demand and increase in sharing economy.
In his remarks, he also highlighted the key measures that can ensure a sustainable growth and increase employment in the recreational boating industry. This requires industry adaptation to solidify the existing interest in boating among younger generations, as well as innovation, digitalisation and a strong environmental perspective.
He emphasised the role of the EU institutions in supporting industry through: 1) Positive EU agenda towards promotion of nautical tourism , 2) Level playing field in tourism sector in regulation and taxation, 3) Research and innovation funding, 4) Stronger Single Market and 5) Mutual recognition of skipper licenses.
Several speakers provided their perspective on the future development of the nautical tourism industry. Robert Marx, President of BVWW underlined that boating tourism does not just refer to mega yachts, but the huge number of smaller boats that have a share of more than 80%. The smaller boats, especially as charter boats, have a substantial impact on the tourism economy. He called for an alignment of VAT rates for campsites and mooring berths. Yves Lyon-Caen, President of the French Leisure Marine Industry Federation FIN underlined the importance of environmental challenges and ensuring that the pleasure of being on the sea is the focus in engaging a new generation of customers.
Petros Michelidakis, Director of Boot Düsseldorf underlined the importance of having a strong future perspective for the indsustry. A key aspect to consider is that even though nautical tourism is a small part of the overall economy, is does not appear as small if one looks at the positive impact for society, economies and people benefiting from the sector.
boot Düsseldorf will be hosting the “Sea Tourism Summit: Navigating a sea of opportunities” event. It will take place on Friday, 17 January 2020 and will cumulate in a celebratory gala dinner where former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will give the keynote speech. Eminent leaders from politics, business, the EU and international institutions will participate in this dialogue on maritime tourism.
More information and tickets here.
Following the Commission's 2010 Communication announcing a strategy for sustainable coastaland maritime tourism, this Communication from 2014 proposes joint responses to the multiple challenges, with a view to capitalise on Europe's strengths and enabling it to substantially contribute to the Europe 2020 objectives for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
The objective of this study was to provide the European Commission with evidence to inform decisions about the development of EU policy on issues relevant to nautical tourism. The specific objectives were to, for a predefined set of nautical tourism topics: