A free digital European Citizens’ Travel Card offering discounts on public transport and attraction sites would benefit the large number of SMEs under-pinning the Irish tourism sector, Brian Hayes MEP said.
“Expenditure by tourists visiting Ireland (including receipts paid to Irish carriers by foreign visitors) was estimated to be worth €6.6 billion in 2016, this represents growth of 9.5% on 2015. Combining spending by international tourists with the money spent by Irish residents taking trips here, total tourism expenditure in 2016 was estimated to be €8.3 billion.
“The share of SMEs operating in the tourism industry is high. They pay the most taxes and create the most jobs. An estimate of all jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry based on past Fáilte Ireland surveys of businesses indicates total employment in the sector at approximately 225,000.
“Tourism is the third largest industry in the EU, a real job and growth engine, and is certainly perceived as a priority issue. For many EU regions, the tourism industry is vital for economic, social and territorial cohesion. Tourism can prevent rural depopulation and demographic imbalances, and this is especially worth taking notice of in Ireland,” he outlined.
The European Committee of the Regions proposes launching a free digital European Citizens’ Travel Card which would offer EU citizens traveling in the EU discounted prices on public transport, museums and other attractions. This would work is in the form of an app, offering a special bonus to EU citizens through their cards. The app would also provide useful information on EU consumer rights, EU passenger rights or healthcare for EU citizens in other Member States.
“This initiative would need to be supported financially, perhaps through a cross-border tourism fund within the EU Budget.
“Tourism contributes to a positive attitude towards Europe, the European Union and to a greater openness and understanding for other cultures, states and regions. Concrete initiatives like this, which bring tangible benefits to traveling EU citizens needs to be supported and developed.”