The 11th European Tourism Forum opened here today, in the framework of Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union, focusing on tourism as an area of growth and job creation in Europe.
The two-day Forum was organized for the first time in 2002 and has become an important annual institution for European tourism.
The promotion of Europe as a tourist destination and facilitating tourist flows to Europe, mainly through better visa processing, are the two main subjects of this year’s Forum.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the Forum, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Neoclis Sylikiotis stressed the importance of tourism in economic growth and employment in Europe.
"The Cypriot Presidency supports all efforts and initiatives to enhance competitiveness and ensure the viability and sustainability of European tourism to the benefit of the citizens. At the same time, it shares the goal of keeping Europe at the top of the international tourist map," said the Minister.
Referring to the current economic crisis, the Minister said that tourism is a sector of great importance, with potential to create the conditions that will contribute to social and economic growth with a very positive impact on investment and employment.
“It is a challenge for us to be able to promote Europe as a quality tourist destination with common but different features in each country. Visitors can therefore confirm that Europe is indeed a single, quality, mature and modern tourist destination with high level services and activities in all sectors”, he added.
The Minister stressed the importance of facilitating visitors from third countries to visit Europe through better visa processing, more user friendly services which in no way endanger issues of security.
Chairman of the Board of Directors of Cyprus Tourism Organization Alekos Orountiotis said that European destinations, through national tourism organizations, have the potential to increase their multi-level cooperation, elevating European tourism to the position it deserves.
Referring to the issue of visas and facilitating tourist flow, he said that there are ways which can help tourism, such as increasing the information flow, use of modern technology and on line tools.
He also referred to the significant increase in tourist arrivals in Cyprus by 10% in 2011 and by 4, 5% until September 2012.
Director of Service Industries, in Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission, Pedro Ortun, stressed the commitment of the European Commission and EU Member States to promote Europe as a tourism destination worldwide by focusing on markets of third countries.
He also said that the actions planned by the European Commission in the field of tourism show how much President Barroso and the EU Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Catherine Ashton are determined to be more responsive to the dimension of tourism on visa policies.
He added that the Commission’s goal is to promote a sustainable and competitive tourist industry that will be able to secure jobs and growth in a sustainable way in the coming years.
The President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) Steffan Nilsson said that tourism is a key sector for development and growth in Europe
He noted the importance of innovation and sustainability in tourism and said that the EESC believes that the establishment of an organization of tourism at European level will help in the direction of a more European tourism policy that takes greater account of the diversity of the EU as a tourist destination.
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