EU: Schools should co-ordinate holidays

A proposal to co-ordinate school terms across Europe could see demand spread across the year to reduce prices at peak periods.

Suggestions for a new European Commission tourism policy includes tackling “seasonal distribution and tourist movements”.

The report says: “Tourist demand is currently concentrated very strongly on the months of July and August. This seasonal aspect not only affects revenue flows but results in non-optimum use of existing infrastructure and staff.”

EU commissioner Antonio Tajani reportedly said: “We are not telling member states when to start their school holidays, but we are looking at ways to make better use of tourist facilities.”

The Commission’s aim is to maintain Europe’s position as the world’s top tourist destination, with 370 million international arrivals in 2008, representing more than 40 per cent of the global total.

While flagging challenges such as seasonality and an aging population, the Commission’s document outlines a policy aimed at supporting this “essential sector” of the European economy.

The report calls for a “new impetus” to be put behind European tourism policy. It proposes initiatives to promote the competitiveness of tourism, its sustainable and “quality-based” development and the visibility of Europe as an outstanding tourist destination.

This includes creating a true “Europe brand”, promote the website and encouraging joint promotional activity at major international events and tourism exhibitions.

The report adds: “The image of Europe and its perception as a collection of sustainable and high quality tourist destination[s] must be improved. Making European destinations more attractive and raising their profile should bring significant economic benefits by stimulating non-European tourist arrivals and also by increasing interest by Europeans in travelling within their own continent.”

The Commission also wants to improve the rights of passengers travelling by sea, bus and coach to match those of air and rail travellers.

“The ongoing review of the directive on package travel, package holidays and package tours is another positive element in reinforcing consumer confidence in the tourism industry,” the report says.

It also calls for better co-operation between member states to improve safety levels in tourist accommodation, with a particular focus on fire risks.

A European forum on tourism is to be held in November where a more detailed action plan may be discussed with member states and tourism companies.

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