Last week’s European Parliament discussions on the impact of aviation on climate change, drew various conclusions which, in WTTC’s view, did not take in the larger picture of the challenges which need to be managed. These conclusions risk undermining the potential Europe’s Travel & Tourism industry holds.
The recommendations to introduce kerosene taxes and ticket taxes threaten to stifle long-term growth and besides placing an additional burden on air transport, only address one side of the problem. Such counsel would not only put the industry within Europe at a great disadvantage compared with the rest of the world, but would also increase the proportional environmental impact through delays on the ground and in the air.
According to World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Tourism Satellite Accounting (TSA) Research in 2006 this industry will account for 10.9 per cent of GDP and almost 24 million jobs, the Travel & Tourism industry is one of the European Union’s largest generators of jobs and wealth. In the EU, where the absolute size of the Travel & Tourism industry is currently ranked 1st out of all world regions, but over the next 10 years is predicted to grow at the slowest rate, losing market share in a global context, it is a crucial time to be addressing ways of supporting Europe’s Travel & Tourism competitiveness.
As set out in WTTC’s EU Manifesto, Europe has a unique opportunity to welcome the new member states with a Travel & Tourism development plan which can create wealth and jobs across the community in the region of an additional EUR 46 billion contribution to GDP and 3 billion jobs. The 10 new member states and future member states represent a great potential to drive growth across the region.
WTTC President, Jean-Claude Baumgarten said, “There is simply no transport alternative to air travel for medium and long-haul travel. Currently in Europe we see the demand increasing but this is never satisfied or supported by the necessary infrastructure development. We have the telling example of Terminal 3 at Heathrow which in the 1980’s was planned to service 10 million passengers a year. It is now facing the challenge of over capacity to double that figure. 20 million passengers pass through Terminal 3 on a yearly basis now and that brings many problems.
“As a result in Europe, we have an infrastructure reaching breaking point, struggling to keep up with itself. If we could work together to address the obstacle of infrastructure we could then prevent aeroplanes from circling over airports because of congestion, which happens more and more frequently and has a very wasteful and detrimental effect on the environment.”
In line with WTTC’s mission statement, businesses should be working together to balance economics with people, culture and environment. Europe’s economy and environment and therefore global positioning will suffer if the recommendations of the European Parliament’s recent talks were to come to fruition. Instead, we should seize the opportunity to address all challenges facing the airline industry to arrive at the most environmentally sound and sustainable approach to transport without scapegoating particular sectors, echoing the European Commission’s message of “Keep Europe Moving”.