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Friday, 25 September 2020

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), an official advisory body of the European Union, published its opinion on Transport and Tourism in 2020 and beyond. It recommends policy measures to help the boating and nautical tourism sector in its recovery and return to growth after COVID-19.

The opinion was adopted by the plenary of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 18th September with a majority of 217- 2 . The body, representing employers, workers and civil society forms an integral part of the EU’s decision-making process through its recommendations.

Led by rapporteur Panagiotis Gkofas, the opinion calls for measures to support the tourism and transport sector survive and recover from the impact of COVID-19. This includes calls for a harmonised approach to travel restrictions, a strategic plan to implement economic and other support measures and tax relief for businesses. The opinion also includes several measures specific for the boating and nautical tourism industry that EBI has been calling for.

  • Recognition and support to tourism sectors offering non-mass and outdoor tourism, such as nautical tourism, to speed up recovery of the wider tourism sector and protect jobs
  • Support and promotion of international trade opportunities for sectors connected to tourism that have been impacted by COVID-19, such as boat-building 
  • Changes to the EU VAT Directive allowing a reduced VAT rate to be applied for boat charter and marinas at national level
  • Funding for the environmental and digital transformation of tourism and its infrastructure
  • Development of cross-border routes for nautical tourism and funding for tourism marketing
  • Public funding and guidelines for the safe organisation of trade fairs
  • Comprehensive approach for skills and qualifications and mutual recognition of licences for skippers of small commercial vessels

Commenting on the EESC opinion, EBI Secretary-General Philip Easthill said “We are delighted to receive such a positive endorsement and push by the European Economic and Social Committee for the tourism sector and nautical tourism sector in particular. The exchange that we have had with the EESC in advance of this opinion is an example of how crucial the dialogue between industry and policy-makers is at this time. It helps develop suitable policy measures to support companies, protect jobs and those regions reliant on the boating industry. We call on the EU institutions and EU countries to follow the recommendations and put the sector on track for a strong recovery in 2020 and beyond.”

Wednesday, 09 September 2020

EBI AGMThe members of European Boating Industry (EBI) met for the second yearly General Assembly to discuss the latest industry developments after a turbulent first half of the year for the industry and chart the association’s future positioning. Representing Slovenia, SMIA joins as new full member and IMCI joins as sustaining member, growing EBI’s network across Europe.

Taking place virtually on 9 September, EBI’s members discussed the future positioning of the association, providing support and a strong platform for its advocacy activities at EU level. Five new position papers were presented on international trade, VAT, Environment, Nautical Tourism, and Industry & Single Market policy following a six-month development process (see below). These offer a clear overview of EBI’s positions and will continue to be developed in the next years.

Members also discussed the latest developments related to COVID-19 that will remain in the focus of EBI’s activities in the coming months. Supporting boating companies in the recovery and working towards a successful 2021 season will take centre-place. Since the start of the crisis, EBI has led the industry’s engagement through dozens of meetings with Members of the European Parliament, Member State representations, and Commissioners to successfully present the concerns of the recreational boating industry. EBI has also been updating its members and the wider industry of the latest developments at EU level regarding COVID-19, as well as working with its key partners.

The General Assembly of EBI accepted the application of the Slovenian Marine Industry Association (SMIA) to join as full member representing Slovenia. Founded in 2016, the association represents producers and service providers, contributing to the export of Slovenian know-how. SMIA supports companies in dealing with challenges in foreign markets, represents them in front of state institutions, and works to increase the visibility of Slovenian expertise in the nautical industry in the long term. Around 1,800 people are employed in the Slovenian recreational boating industry.

EBI is also delighted to announce that the International Marine Certification Institute (IMCI) was accepted as a sustaining member. IMCI is an EU-based, independent, non-profit organisation committed to adding value to the worldwide recreational craft industry by assessing compliance of companies, products, services and experts with the highest recognised standards of quality and safety. IMCI is believed to be the market leader with regards to the CE certification of products under the Recreational Craft Directive.

After the General Assembly, EBI President Jean-Pierre Goudant commented “We have set the course for EBI to further grow the influence of the recreational boating industry at EU level. The clear positioning that we now have is a crucial element of this endeavour. Welcoming SMIA as new full member and IMCI as new sustaining member broadens our network and will enrich our discussions. Together this further strengthens our voice at EU level, and we are delighted that they have joined EBI.

Our industry has the potential to take advantage of new business opportunities in an environment that has fundamentally changed over the last months. We will lead the way and work with our members, partners and the EU institutions in ensuring a bright future for the recreational boating industry.”

Following the approval as full member of EBI, President of SMIA Jurij Korenc commented “Slovenian Marine Industry Association is happy to become a part of the global EBI family, in this way being able to contribute its creativity and innovations and at the same time benefit from everything EBI membership will offer. SMIA members will now have a chance to present themselves to a global industry through EBI in a more efficient and direct way.”

On being accepted as sustaining member of EBI, Ulrich Heinemann, Managing Director of IMCI said “IMCI is very happy to be on board of EBI and very willing to contribute to the activities of the association, especially regarding technical matters.”

For more on SMIA, please find their website here: http://www.smia.eu/en/home/

For more on IMCI, please find their website here: https://www.imci.org/

Tuesday, 08 September 2020

Tourism ManifestoThe European Tourism Manifesto alliance, the voice of the European travel and tourism sector, calls on Member States to urgently agree on harmonised travel restrictions and ensure swift implementation to help the sector survive this unprecedented crisis.

The European Tourism Manifesto alliance applauds renewed efforts of the European Commission[1] as well as the initiative from the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union from last week to improve coordination on cross-border travel and restore the integrity of the Schengen area. The need for continued COVID-19 control is foreseeable and, under Art.24 of the Schengen Borders Code, any related border restrictions must be coordinated. In the wake of an expected dramatic economic downturn, it is crucial that travel within the EU and the wider European area (including EEA, UK and Switzerland) be carefully and quickly restored. In addition, international coordination to re-establish transatlantic travel would provide a vital boost to the travel and tourism sector.

European travel and tourism is the ecosystem most affected by the coronavirus crisis due to insufficiently coordinated travel restrictions, declining traveller confidence and reduced consumer demand. The 2020 summer season was strongly impacted by this crisis, with traveller confidence reaching a record low. Hotel occupancy rates in Europe were at 26.5% in July 2020, which accounts for a fall of 66.4% compared to the same month last year [2]. Moreover, top 5 European destinations, such as France, Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands only saw just 40% of 2019’s volumes for intra-European travel, with Spain lagging at 22% of last year’s volumes[3].

While many Europeans were keen to travel again during the summer, the inconsistent and ever-changing border restrictions along with confusion about quarantine and test requirements, caused frustration for both businesses and travellers, deterring booking and damaging materialisation for both leisure and business travel.

We call on national governments to urgently approve the European Commission’s proposal and to:

  • Establish common criteria and thresholds for determining epidemiological risk, including a common colour-coding system to identify risk areas. These criteria should be evaluated on a detailed regional level, considering relevant geographical factors (particularly islands).
    • Implement common measures to put in place upon departure to and return from risk areas. These measures should be determined with sufficient detail and based on scientific evidence (as there is no reason to restrict travel to entire countries if only certain regions are affected), and comprise:
    • Replacing the need for quarantine of travellers with comprehensive cost-effective testing and tracing
    • Avoiding blanket restrictions to free movement by implementing more targeted measures which are limited in geographical scope
    • Avoiding imposing travel restrictions on passengers in transit
    • Agreeing on common rules for requesting pre-travel COVID-19 negative test results where needed
    • Ensuring the interoperability of contact tracing apps in the EU and the harmonization of Passenger Locator Forms based on international standards.
  • Follow a common structured and transparent process to publish clear, comprehensive and timely information about any travel restrictions where these are needed. Information should also be made available on the ‘Re-open EU' web platform[4].

The sector has been calling for better coordination between Member States and a harmonised European approach to travel restrictions and safety measures since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such an approach will help rebuild traveller confidence and help the sector in its slow recovery, protecting millions of livelihoods, jobs, and enterprises. Pending the return of significant visitor flows, continued financial support for the sector is necessary so that the European tourism ecosystem returns employment to the economy as soon as possible.

Proving the importance of tourism recovery as a catalyst for European economic revival, the latest WTTC research[5] shows that every 2.7% increase in travel flows would generate or bring back one million jobs in the sector. Harmonising the inconsistent patchwork of COVID-19 rules and travel advice in Europe could lead to an increase in travellers by as much as 27%, recreating 10 million jobs in travel and tourism across Europe.

Note to editors

The European Tourism Manifesto alliance gathers more than 60 European public and private organisations, covering the whole tourism value chain and beyond. The alliance calls on the European Union for action on key policy priorities for the tourism sector. For more information, please visit tourismmanifesto.eu.

[1] European Commission’s Proposal for a COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 4th September 2020 - https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_1555
[1] https://str.com/press-release/str-europe-hotel-performance-july-2020
[1] Dates are compared from January 6 – July 12, 2020 with the same time last year; https://forwardkeys.com/q4-outlook-for-travel-in-europe/

Tuesday, 04 August 2020

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Tuesday, 28 July 2020

The European Commission has issued practical guidance to help companies prepare for the changes from 1 January 2021 after the end of the transition period. This mainly relates to the changes that will certainly take place, regardless of the future trade relationship. The guidance is important for companies in the recreational boating sector with business relationships to the UK. The guidance includes

  • Commission Communication on readiness at the end of the transition period (with information on customs checks, certification, VAT, etc.) – see here
  • Stakeholder notice for the RCD sector (updated in June – see here)
  • Stakeholder notice for industrial products (last updated in March – see here)

All stakeholder notices can be found here. EBI encourages companies to closely follow the recommendations and prepare for the end of the transition periods. Questions for clarifications can be sent to the EBI Office.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

According to the Commission’s latest economic forecast, published in early July, the EU economy will experience a deep recession in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. This forecast updates the spring forecast published in early May. As lockdown are being lifted more gradually than originally anticipated, the impact on economic activity in 2020 will be more significant than projected in the earlier forecast. The return to growth in 2021 will also be less strong than projected in the spring.

Below are the key figures from the summer economic forecast

  • The Euro area economy will contract by 8.7% in 2020 and grow by 6.1% in 2021
  • The EU economy is forecast to contract by 8.3% in 2020 and grow by 5.8% in 2021

The full forecast and reports can be found here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Funded by the European Commission, five nautical routes were developed that can now be accessed and promoted to boaters. They focus on nautical and maritime activities, ecotourism, waters sports or sailing with the aim to foster blue growth, help creating new jobs and promote sustainability in their respective regions.

The nautical routes aim to attract tourists to new areas with different themes. The five routes are:

More information on all nautical routes, can be found here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

In its hydrogen strategy, the European Commission presents an ambitious push for hydrogen as an energy source. This includes the following targets

  • From 2020 to 2024, the EU will support the installation of at least 6 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysers and the production of up to one million tonnes of renewable hydrogen.
  • From 2025 to 2030, hydrogen should become an intrinsic part of the EU’s integrated energy system, with at least 40 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysers and the production of up to ten million tonnes of renewable hydrogen in the EU.

From 2030 to 2050, renewable hydrogen technologies should reach maturity and be deployed at large scale across all hard-to-decarbonise sectors. In the maritime area, the strategy has identified the potential of hydrogen in maritime transport. For the Commission, hydrogen can eventually be used for inland waterways and short-sea shipping as an alternative low emission fuel. For longer-distance shipping, fuel cell power can be scaled up from one to multiple megawatts, as well as use renewable hydrogen for the production of synthetic fuels, methanol or ammonia.

The Commission also launched the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance with industry leaders, civil society, national and regional ministers and the European Investment Bank. The Alliance will build up an investment pipeline for scaled-up production and support demand for clean hydrogen in the EU. Interested companies and organisations can join the Alliance. More information can be found here.

The full Hydrogen Strategy can be found here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

The European Commission has adopted an updated action plan for the blue economy in the EU Atlantic area, covering France, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. The revamped action gives new impetus to the Atlantic maritime strategy and strengthen the participating countries’ recovery efforts. Among the priorities are blue skills, ocean literacy, marine renewable energy, as well as healthy and resilient oceans. One of the actions is the promotion of sustainable practices in coastal and maritime tourism.

The main sources of funding will be European Structural and Investment Funds, including the future cooperation programme in the Atlantic area and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

The full action plan can be found here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Deadline: 20 August 2020

The Commission is consulting on the EU’s new strategy on adaptation to the impacts of climate change. The Commission aims to present the new strategy in early 2021, which is part of the European Green Deal. A blueprint for the strategy is provided for context, as well as to indicate possible directions of development. It can be found here.

EBI will provide input to the consultation but invites members, stakeholders and interested parties to also provide specific feedback they may have. The consultation can be found here.

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