Opening speech to the Global Tourism Forum 2021 

Speech by European Parliament President Sassoli

Good morning everyone,

Thank you for the invitation. Unfortunately, I am unable to be with you physically but I would like to greet all the guests and international experts who participate in this important event.

As you know, we live in a time of great challenges. The dramatic crisis caused by the pandemic was a watershed moment, a devastating and unexpected event. This has led to major changes not only on an economic and social level but also to our lifestyles and our routines. In this sense, tourism - which represents one of the major sources of income for the EU - was undoubtedly one of the most affected sectors. In fact, it is estimated that due to the pandemic, some areas of tourism faced losses between 70-80%, affecting 11 million jobs.  

Europe is the number one tourism destination in the world and it is therefore vital to support this sector because, as well as strengthening our competitiveness, it can significantly relaunch our economic and social recovery. To do this we need to build new alliances, identify new tools to help facilitate mobility, all while making it more sustainable, resilient and with a lower environmental impact.

In fact, sustainability represents the future and the paradigm with which we must address the themes of economic development, including tourism. It is important to rethink this sector in a new way. Everyone must do their part and the success of the tourism industry will lie in developing connections and synergies with other sectors.  

For this reason, it is more necessary than ever to reconsider the services offered and to identify new ways to respond to the needs of consumers. After all, tourism is an important tool to promote the cultural richness of our countries and regions, and to enhance further the idea of a global citizenship based on solidarity, which is the basis of an open and inclusive society.

In this sense, it is essential to improve connectivity, invest in sustainable transport and promote intelligent management of tourist flows. We can do all this thanks also to the support of new technologies but also by investing in the development of new skills.

If we want to revive the entire tourism ecosystem and make it more effective and resilient after this pandemic, we must use the existing funding opportunities in the EU budget and Next Generation EU intelligently. However, above all we must work together on a European agenda for tourism in 2030/ 2050, in order to strengthen its competitiveness in the medium and long term.

I hope to meet you all soon and I wish you good luck in your work.