Ryanair recently hosted a roundtable discussion in the European Parliament aligning tourism and aviation policy agendas, where it announced its support for the ‘European Capital of Tourism’ initiative, a programme designed to boost tourism across the continent.
The event was sponsored by MEPs Istvan Ujhelyi (S&D, Hungary), Salvo Pogliese (EPP, Italy) and Claudia Tapardel (S&D, Romania) and was addressed by Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs, who emphasised that low cost aviation is a key driver of regional tourism and job growth, and outlined how dynamic and original aviation marketing can support tourism diversification.
Ryanair Chief Commercial Officer David O’Brien highlighted the positive impact of low cost airline travel to and between Europe’s Regions for tourism, employment and social mobility, and how monopoly airport regimes and government passenger taxes distort markets to the Regions’ disadvantage. While Amar Breckenridge from Frontier Economics demonstrated the enormous potential impact of Brexit on tourism, with UK travel typically accounting for between 10% and 40% of total EU travel for Member States, the urgent need for clarity of air access post Brexit was highlighted.
Ryanair welcomed the European Capital of Tourism initiative, a pan-European programme modelled on the successful European Capital of Culture concept, which has been allocated a budget of €2.5m over the next three years, which will see cities and regions bidding for funding by submitting progressive and innovative tourism development programmes to the European Commission.
In Brussels, Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs said:“As the largest airline in Europe, Ryanair is pleased to support the European Capital of Tourism initiative. Some 130m people will fly with Ryanair across the continent this year and we have seen first-hand the regional tourism growth and job creation that low cost aviation brings, especially for Europe’s youth. We are pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with members of the European Parliament and with the European Commission on the European Capital of Tourism project, and we look forward to playing an important role in its development in the coming years. Much like Ryanair’s low fares, this will help put even more of Europe’s cities and regions on the map.”
István Ujhelyi, S&D, Chair of the Tourism Task Force said:“Low cost aviation, together with tourism, could create jobs, sustain growth and enhance regional development. In the face of the current challenges we have in Europe, including Brexit, the 60th anniversary of the European community and the transnational threats we must remain united and voice our common interests. That is why I have prepared a document entitled European ReUnion, where I put forward progressive ideas to reorganise, rebuild, and re-orientate our union.
“In this paper, one of the key messages is to find and establish the real decision-making link between the local community and the regions, at European level. I would like to give a bigger role, more responsibilities and political space for the regions and the regional representations in Brussels. The European Capital of Tourism is an excellent project to help this process.”