EU strategy for sustainable tourism: European Parliament calls for reduced VAT and stimulus package for tourism SMEs

MEPs have called on the European Commission “to encourage Member States to temporarily set reduced VAT rates on travel and tourism services, accompanied by a special stimulus package for all micro-enterprises and SMEs for the 2020-2024 period, in order to minimise the number of bankruptcies and preserve jobs and workers’ rights in the European tourism industry, while utilising investments to foster the transition towards a more digital and sustainable tourism ecosystem” in a Parliamentary Resolution adopted on 25 March.

The resolution on an EU strategy for sustainable tourism, adopted by 577 votes to 31, and 80 abstentions, notes that the COVID-19 outbreak has paralysed the EU’s tourism sector, with 6 out of 27 million jobs at risk. MEPs highlight that the tourism and travel sectors account for around 10% of the EU’s GDP.

The Parliament further calls on the EU Member States to fully implement common criteria for safe travel without delay. These should include an EU Health and Safety protocol for testing before departure. Quarantine requirements should be applied only as a last resort. A common vaccination certificate should facilitate travel and act as an alternative to PCR tests and quarantine requirements. A new certificate should follow privacy and data protection rules and could start being used once there is sufficient evidence that those who have been vaccinated do not transmit the virus. The resolution also urges the Commission to introduce an EU hygiene certification seal, which could certify minimum COVID-19 virus prevention and control standards and could help restore consumer trust in the tourism and travel sectors.

MEPs also stress that the Commission must look beyond the pandemic and replace the 2010 strategy on EU tourism to maintain Europe’s standing as a leading destination. The text finally calls on the Commission to set up a European Agency for Tourism, which will support the tourism ecosystem, promote the European brand, provide the EU with the latest data on tourism, assist small businesses to access EU funding and help the tourism sector to prepare for future crises.

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