Madrid/Lisbon, Jul 16 (efe-epa).- “Tourism can be the basis of a successful green future,” European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, told the EURAGORA forum while stressing the hard-hit sector’s “crucial role” for the economies of Spain and Portugal.
“Tourism is a key sector for our countries,” but also for Europe, hence the important effort to recover activity, the Portuguese politician said on the second and final day of the forum organized by the Spanish news agency EFE and Portugal’s Lusa as part of the Stars4Media program co-financed by the European Commission.
The initial recovery plans – “pillars of the European relaunch” – total more than 100 billion euros and will have a significant impact on the tourism sector, Ferreira said during the EURAGORA session “Challenges and opportunities after the pandemic for sun and beach, urban and cultural, and ecological and rural tourism.” which was recorded on July 13 and broadcast Thursday.
Tourism, she said, was associated in the past “with low profiles and low salaries,” but it can be “a sector with high added value, and a wide and deep portfolio of activities” to resist sudden changes.
The challenges include the development of tourism capacity in rural areas, which has greatly increased in recent years but still has a significant margin for growth and must face specific needs, such as digitization and quality of service.
As a sign of the success of rural tourism initiatives, Ferreira pointed to the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), which has increased the flow of visitors by 20% and benefits regions of both Spain and Portugal.
Tourism cannot be left out of the transition towards a green and digital economy either, which “is not a choice or an option, it is an obligation,” said the European Commissioner.
“In the long term, we will all have to unite in this challenge” and “those who are first will have an advantage,” she said.
“Tourism is an essential part of our economy, it is built on our heritage and our past, but it can be the basis for a successful green future,” she insisted.
Projects like Moveletur that allow people to explore natural parks in vehicles and electric bicycles, are examples.