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Brussels, 27 September 2010

European Tourism Day promotes cultural routes in the EU

The European Commission, the European Parliament, Member States and the Council of Europe are ready to cooperate further on the promotion of the "Cultural Routes". This is the message the main European key players in the tourism sector have made clear today in Brussels, where the Commission is celebrating the European Tourism Day on the occasion of the World Tourism Day. Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the European Union has the new role to promote the competitiveness of its tourism sector, its sustainable and quality-based development and the visibility of Europe as an outstanding tourist destination.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, in charge of industry and entrepreneurship said: "We need to keep Europe’s tourism industry at the forefront of innovative solutions. The concept of cultural routes contributes to the diversification of the European tourism offer. It corresponds to a rising demand from tourists to explore new destinations and others' culture. In this context, the Commission – in line with the new Lisbon Treaty – can play an important role in coordinating e national policies and enhancing their impact".

The cultural routes will take you on a journey that is sign-posted with the fundamental principles of Europe: human rights, cultural democracy, cultural diversity, identity, dialogue, and mutual exchange” said Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, responsible for education, culture, multilingualism and youth.

European cultural routes represent a truly authentic pan-European touristic product. Cultural itineraries, the theme of this year's European Tourism Day brings can be further developed into a comprehensive package, benefitting the industry and Europeans alike. They could also reduce the concentration of tourists concentration in few sites, overcome seasonality by proposing a new model of tourism and strengthening EU citizenship through the discovery of our common heritage, Examples of such routes include the Iron Curtain Trail, the Phoenician Route, the route of the Olive tree, the Via Francigena and others. (See Memo 10/446 for a full overview on all routes discussed today).

Today's conference brings together numerous Members of the European Parliament, the Belgian Presidency, Ministers in charge of Tourism in several Member States, representatives of different EU regional authorities and the European Commission, – all demonstrating their willingness to contribute to the further development and promotion of the Cultural Routes.

The European Union can contribute to the diversification of supply and encouraging intra-European flows, by developing thematic tourism products on a European scale.

In the margins of the conference, Vice-President Tajani mediated among some of the EU Member States which signed the following two Memoranda of Understanding for jointly take on board some initiatives in the tourism filed:

  • Italy and France, which could soon be joined by UK and Switzerland, signed a memorandum that engages them to develop a common long-term strategy for the protection and promotion of cultural routes, starting with the "Via Francigena", an ancient pilgrimage going from Canterbury to Rome.

  • Spain, Italy and France also agreed on a "European Passion" logo for the joint marketing of their tourism offer in the BRIC markets.

More information on the cultural routes


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