We must see Europe, the old continent, with new eyes. Our rich history and culture have a magnetic effect on people everywhere.
Europe’s diversity is unparalleled. From bustling modern cities to ancient medieval towns. From wild forests to the sunniest beaches. We are privileged because we have it all. It is no surprise tourism is one of the key industries of our continent, especially for EU Member States in the Mediterranean basin. The pandemic lockdowns shut down much of these countries’ economies and highlighted the vulnerabilities in our networks of transportation, and health systems that make visiting Europe so appealing.
Betting on the industry is a most, specially given the challenges we have experienced over the last three years. The tourism industry represents 256 billion euro in revenue. That number only shows the enormous potential the sector could have if we promote a set of policies to incentivize tourism investment as an engine for job opportunities and economic development in the countries and regions of the Union. Europe needs a conservative outlook to achieve this outcome. That was precisely the aim of the ECR Party during its last “Culture Weekend” in Ischia, the majestic island in the Gulf of Naples, Italy.
A combination of fresh Mediterranean weather and a volcanic soil make Ischia a fertile region with a world-class wine and olive oil production. With is crystalline beaches and Neapolitan gastronomy, “the green island” served as the perfect backdrop for the Culture Weekend. Indeed, it is one of the main tourist hot spots in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Dozens of European Conservatives gathered over the Culture Weekend to address the challenges and opportunities of the tourism industry, with a particular focus on European regulation and collaboration. Among the speakers were Daniela Santaché, the Italian Minister of Tourism; Adela Mirza, president of the Alternativa Dreaptă Party of Romania; and the director for Europe of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Alessandra Priante.
The program looked at business perspectives and conservative strategies to boost the European industry, especially through the development of religious tourism. This kind of outlook not only provides European and foreign tourists with an opportunity to discover the very roots of our civilizational identity, but it also serves a source of revenue for local economies, boosting growth in small, usually family-owned businesses in hospitality. The Road of Santiago, which spans through northern Spain (and parts of France and Portugal), is a key example. With its vast Christian tradition, Europe could become the world’s center for religious tourism. We need brave voices across the Conservative spectrum to defend these ideas.
In Ischia, the panelists and attendees addressed the many issues in regional and international mobility, and the strength and importance of the aviation system. COVID’s disruptions on international travel have been conspicuous. But even in the recovery, and post-recovery phases, according to a bulletin of the European Central Bank, “there are lasting effects on the [tourism] sector through risk aversion and a change in preferences”. Conservatives must fight this mindset by conveying to the European and international public a message of safety. Europe is safe to travel. We have come out of this pandemic with more strength and greater resolve.
This weekend in Ischia was part of the ECR Culture Weekend series. This initiative allows conservatives of all ages and countries to discover, learn, and network in the most significant cultural sights of Europe and abroad—a foray into the diversity of European traditions, landscapes, and cultures.
This year, Sofia and Jerusalem have hosted two other Culture Weekends. Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to get updates on our next one.