23 May 2002
Tapping Europe’s tourism potential
Committee on Culture, Science and Education
Rapporteur: Mr Edward O’Hara, United Kingdom, Socialist Group
I. Conclusions of the committee
The committee very much agrees with Mrs Stepova’s call for quality tourism - as opposed to mass tourism - such that will prevent irreversible damage to the cultural heritage and assist sustainable development.
It further agrees that part of the income generated from tourism should be used in the conservation of cultural “tourist attractions” and in particular to restore damage and dilapidation already suffered by sites and monuments.
The committee is concerned with discrimination against foreign tourist guides. It does not wish to discourage visits to cultural events, monuments and museums as these play an important educational role
It therefore proposes the following amendments to the excellent draft resolution presented by Mrs Stepova on behalf of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development in Doc. 9461:
- Before sub para 6 (i), add a new sub para to read “to ensure that financial resources derived from visits to cultural sites and monuments are used, at least in part, for the upkeep, safeguard, development and embellishment of this heritage”
- In sub para 6 (ii), add at the end « and in the context of the project on “European cultural itineraries” »
- After sub para 6 (iii), add a new sub para to read “to abandon, wherever this exists, the discriminatory practice of not allowing foreign tourist guides who satisfy quality standards valid in the country visited”
- In sub para 7 (ii), delete the words “or visits to cultural events and monuments”
II. Explanatory memorandum by the rapporteur
1. Since 1967 the Assembly has held five debates on tourism on the basis of eight reports and three opinions presented by its committees dealing with the environment, local authorities, economic affairs, culture and agriculture. Three orders, two resolutions and four recommendations were adopted.
2. The Committee on Culture and Education presented an opinion on European cooperation in the field of tourism in June 1977 and a report on The European tourism year: cultural considerations in September 1990.
3. In addition to these our committee has dealt with tourism, directly or indirectly, in many other reports on themes such as the European pilgrim routes (later called the European Cultural Itineraries), the cultural heritage of central and eastern Europe, heritage conservation or “Europe, a common heritage” – the Council of Europe campaign of 1999-2000.
4. Our concern has always been to balance the cultural advantages of tourism with the protection of the cultural heritage whether built or other from the tourists it attracts.
5. Four years after the last debate, Mrs Stepova and the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development are presenting a new report on tourism. The Committee on Culture, Science and Education congratulates the rapporteur, and welcomes her report, which address a number of issues of concern to the committee.
6. Already in 1990 the Assembly regretted that “tourism in recent years has evolved into an insufficiently controlled mass phenomenon, which may cause landscapes to become deteriorated, the environment to be degraded, the soil to be eroded, the water to be polluted, cultures to be denatured, cultural identities to be lost”. The committee therefore endorses the call for quality tourism - as opposed to mass tourism - such that will prevent irreversible damage to the cultural heritage and assist sustainable development.
7. The committee further agrees that part of the income generated from tourism should be used in the conservation of cultural “tourist attractions” and in particular to restore damage and dilapidation already suffered by sites and monuments
8. This does not apply only to government action to rescue and preserve national monuments. Individuals, organisations and small enterprises should be encouraged to invest in making a wider range of sites, facilities and buildings available to cultural tourists.
9. Governments should provide advice, assistance or support (through grants or through tax incentives) for this purpose, as is already the case in several member states of the Council of Europe. The Committee on Culture, Science and Education is currently preparing a report on tax incentives to cultural heritage conservation.
10 It should be recognized however that cultural tourism in itself could be a viable exercise in supporting local economies through the preservation of local cultural traditions, crafts and activities that might otherwise die out.
11. This should not be achieved, however, by actively discriminating against foreign tourist guides, who are still prevented from exercising their profession in some Council of Europe member States. Such discrimination should be brought to an end as soon as possible.
12. Tourism focused on “culture/art/religion” is recognised in our committee’s reports on the preservation and alternative uses of redundant religious buildings and disused hospitals and military buildings, and in the annual awards of European conservation and museum prizes.
13. Visits to cultural events, monuments and museums play an important educational role. It is therefore fully justified that nationals have preferential access to such events and sites. In some Council of Europe member States nationals do not pay entrance fees in museums. This approach should be encouraged.
14. Cultural tourism also underpins the European heritage as defined by the Council of Europe campaign “Europe, a Common Heritage” and the annual designation by the EU of “European Cities/Capitals of Culture”.
15. This serves to demonstrate the unity within the diversity of that heritage.
16. It also serves to widen the cultural horizons of Europeans from widely differing parts of Europe, and to widen and deepen their mutual understanding and tolerance.
17. This process will be supported by the “European cultural itineraries” that are being developed by many member states of the Council of Europe.
Committee for report: Committee on Economic Affairs and Development (Doc. 9461)
Committee for opinion: Committee on Culture, Science and Education
Reference to the committee: Order No. 541 (1998), Doc. 8720 and Reference No 2507 of 16 May 2000
Secretariat of the committee: Mr. Grayson, Mr Ary, Mrs Theophilova-Permaul, Mr Torcatoriu
1 See Doc. 9461