Discussing the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council with Ambassador Tamara Weingerl-Požar
1. On 1st July, Slovenia will take over the Presidency of the EU Council at a time of great challenges for European hospitality. Could you detail to our readers what the main priorities of the Slovenian Presidency will be to keep establishments open and favour the long-term recovery?
Tourism remains high on the agenda also during the Slovenian Presidency. The recovery and revitalization of the tourism and travel industry, which was hit hard by the pandemic, will be at the heart of our work. The Slovenian Presidency intends to focus on building the sector’s resilience to future crises. We intend to advocate innovative and smart solutions for the free movement of people, for safe cross-border mobility and for the security of tourism services across the single market.
In addition, the Slovenian Presidency will seek to promote the green and digital transition of tourism SMEs and destinations to make the necessary adjustments to new, innovative business and management models and to provide the necessary skills in this context. Our aim is to pay special attention to the goals of sustainable, climate-neutral and green tourism destinations in connection with sustainable transport mobility and decarbonisation. The Slovenian Presidency also intends to highlight the importance of harmonious regional and local tourism and the importance of cultural and creative industries for the promotion and preservation of European identity and the visibility of tourism.
2. Earlier in June, we at HOTREC welcomed the approval of the EU Digital COVID Certificate and the European Council’s recommendation on free movement restrictions. We firmly believe that coordinating travel and quarantine measures across the Union will be the first step towards increased traveller and consumer confidence. What other aspects do you deem as key to make the recovery possible?
The epidemiological situation in Europe and the wider world urges us to realize that the pandemic is not yet over. With the spread of variants of concern, it will be important to continue with vaccination efforts domestically and to ensure more equitable access to vaccination globally. But we also need to continue to be vigilant and coordinated with regard to current developments and prudent when easing public health measures that aim to contain the spread of COVID-19 infections. The EU Digital COVID Certificate was successfully rolled out at the beginning of the month and the system facilitates free and safe travel within the EU by summer holidays. We need to accelerate ongoing work with third countries to ensure mutual recognition of digital COVID certificates. Slovenian Presidency will also take work forward to enhance our collective preparedness, response capability and resilience to future crises.
3. A message to the European hospitality sector.
Firstly, we are very aware that the hospitality sector needs urgent and adequate economic support that can be channelled notably from the Recovery and Resilience plans. The sector requires special attention because it is one of the fourteen key industrial ecosystems that has been most severely hit by the Covid-19 crisis. In particular, SMEs have been severely affected. The revival of tourism from the crisis should be accompanied by a long-term vision to transform the sector based on sustainable principles. Therefore, the Council will work to support this forward-looking and integrated vision in the form of a “European Agenda for Tourism 2030/2050” in order to render tourism sustainable, resilient, green and digital. But at the same time, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the virus is still among us, and that currently, the delta version of the Covid-19 virus is spreading quite quickly, which causes concern. I would thus like to underline the importance of continuing to follow all safety measures, including in the hospitality sector, in order to ensure a safe return to normality.