“Facing the Challenge of
Sustainability in Maritime Tourism”
Chaired by MEP Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Chair of the “Transport and Tourism” Group of
the EP Intergroup “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development”
Wednesday 16 May 2012
European Parliament, Brussels
Tourism is an important sector of the European economy but “many Heads of States
underestimated the social, political and environmental significance of tourism,” regretted
MEP Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Chair of the “Transport and Tourism” group of the European
Parliament Intergroup “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development”.
This meeting took place as the European Commission Directorate Generals in charge of
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) and of Enterprise and Industry (DG ENTR)
launched a public consultation on the “Challenges and Opportunities for Maritime and
Coastal Tourism in the EU.”
Indeed, mitigating the impacts of maritime tourism on the ecosystem requires an
appropriate maritime spatial planning providing long-term stability and predictability, as
well as the management of competition for marine space in intensively used areas. This is
the reason why European Commission DG Enterprise and Industry and DG Maritime Affairs
and Fisheries will work hand in hand to define a strategy for sustainable coastal and marine
Welcoming words by MEP Dieter-Lebrecht Koch
Mr. Koch said that the European Parliament (EP) and the European Commission (EC) have
been convinced of the importance of tourism for many years. Yet, many Heads of States
have underestimated the social, political and environmental significance of tourism,
regretted Mr Koch. However, since the Lisbon Treaty, tourism at large has become the
responsibility of the EU, he recalled. Mr. Koch assured the audience that in the framework of
the Horizon 2020 strategy, the European Parliament is working to increase the
competitiveness and capacity for the sustainable growth of European tourism.
A European strategy for sustainable coastal and maritime tourism
Francesca Tudini, Head of Unit in charge of Tourism Policy Development, DG Enterprise and
Industry, European Commission
Mrs. Tudini reported on the preparatory works of the European Commission on a "European
Strategy for sustainable coastal and maritime tourism," a task being co-led by DG Enterprise
and Industry and DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
The European Commission actively supports policy development for the tourism sector and
has over the years highlighted the need for a sustainable and competitive tourism at
European level through a number of policy documents, namely the 2010 Communication
"Europe, the world's Nr. 1 tourist destination - a new political framework for tourism in
Europe"1, which calls for a strategy for the development of a sustainable, responsible and
high-quality tourism. In this context, a dedicated Communication is being prepared for the
end of 2012 and a public consultation is currently taking place on "Challenges and
Opportunities concerning maritime and coastal tourism in the EU."
Tourism is an economic backbone of the majority of European coastal regions; it is essential
for their economies and offers a significant potential for growth and employment in these
areas. Delivering on this potential makes therefore a strong contribution to the Europe 2020
COM(2007) 621 final and COM (2010) 352 final
The European Commission already addressed maritime and coastal tourism by dedicating a
specific strand within the Blue Growth strategy. Regarding the forthcoming Communication,
the Commission has two main objectives:
- Facilitating the competitive and sustainable growth of the European maritime and
coastal tourism sector, while providing further employment opportunities;
- Promoting a focused and coordinated European strategy, by identifying a series of
recommendations and actions to be taken at European level.
The forthcoming Communication will aim at supporting, coordinating and supplementing the
measures undertaken in Member States through the identification of initiatives that have a
European dimension and a high European added value.
Mrs. Tudini stressed that the main challenge lies in the need to ensure sustainable growth:
“We cannot deny that there is a conflict between the benefits tourism provides for the
economy as a whole and its heavy impacts on the environment, the quality of life of the local
population, the loss of social and cultural identity and values,” she explained. In order to
face these challenges, it is necessary to identify and emphasize the strengths of this
subsector such as Europe's diverse coastal landscapes and address the weaknesses and
threats such as transport connectivity and accessibility, she claimed.
The European Commission will seek to identify the appropriate EU Financial Instruments for
the development of sustainable maritime and coastal tourism in Europe. Yet, Mrs. Tudini
stressed that the achievement of sustainable development will be greatly determined by
national and particularly local policies and decisions.
To conclude, Mrs. Tudini informed the audience about the forthcoming European Tourism
Day that will take place in Brussels on 27 September 2012 and will focus on
deseasonalisation on one part, and coastal and maritime tourism on the other.
Benefits and impacts of maritime tourism on local communities
Cristina Scaletti, NECSTouR President, Minister of Tourism, Tuscany Region
Mrs. Scaletti welcomed the European Commission’s new political framework for European
tourism. As the President of NECSTouR, Mrs. Scaletti presented the network of European
Regions that seeks to promote a sustainable and high-quality tourism and to support the
Commission in developing a European label for the promotion of European tourist
The network puts great emphasis on three pillars, namely social dialogue, measurability and
evaluation, and competitiveness, in order to develop a model that guarantees a permanent
comparison on the problematic linked to sustainable and competitive tourism. Social
dialogue with the stakeholders is a necessity that allows integrating their specific needs and
guarantees the effectiveness of public policy through real ownership of the policies by the
actors. Furthermore, measurability and evaluation are key elements to define and evaluate
the performance of public policies in terms of sustainable tourism. Indicators will have to be
developed in order to provide information and data to help improve policies. Finally,
competitiveness is often forgotten in sustainable tourism policies, which could be one of the
reasons for its weak development. It becomes therefore necessary to ensure that overall
sustainable tourism policies contribute to the improvement of competitiveness of the
destinations and their actors.
Typical coastal and maritime destination, Tuscany service offers include bathing services,
accommodation services, nautical services and security services. Mrs. Scaletti argued that
tourism offers great opportunities to local communities provided that models for the
sustainable management of the tourist destinations are adopted.
Yet, environmental protection services are also delivered: for example, in terms of water
quality, an integrated system of sea water quality checks was put in place to guarantee good
standards of health to tourists and local communities. Another example is found in parks and
natural reserves, which offers quality of services to local populations as well. Commercial
services are also provided, which valorises the productive identity of the tourism regions. All
these services contribute to the social fabric and the landscape of the European coastline.
Nowadays, tourists are looking for unique experiences. This is the reason why the regions
have to stress their identity in order to become more competitive.
In conclusion, Mrs. Scaletti mentioned the case of the Island of Giglio in Italy as an example
of a European maritime destination with local systems of services and of maritime
communities. 3000 people were rescued and assisted in one night by the isle’s population
(1,500 inhabitants). Now, and for the past five months, hospitality and services have been
provided to the technicians and personnel in charge of safety and of emptying the ship’s
tanks. At the same time, a constant monitoring of environmental quality has been taking
place in order to ensure the sustainable environment and reassure the tourists to keep
Giglio, the “flower of Tuscany”, a high level touristic destination.
Responsible tourism: the role of the industry
Robert Ashdown, Director, Technical Environment & Operations, European Cruise Council
Mr. Ashdown argued that responsible tourism brings added value to destinations and to
local communities. It also means that the cruise industry performs in a safe and secure
manner and is environmentally aware of the impact of ships on local environments and the
impact of tourists on board of ships on destinations. Ultimately, all these conditions put
together bring sustainable growth.
The European cruise market has shown strong development in the last years; it remains an
important economic contributor to Europe. The total output impact of the European cruise
industry has grown 84% since 2005. Today, 307.000 jobs depend on this industry, which is
55% more than in 2005. It is a vital source of shipbuilding income, providing economic
lifeline to coastal communities and shows strong potential for ongoing growth.
Mr. Ashdown stressed that safety is the cruise industry sector’s number One priority.
Cruising is the safest mode of travelling; yet, safety is vital for the business and there is
therefore no complacency. In the aftermath of the Costa Concordia catastrophe, several new
policies were announced and there are more to come. These policies were immediately
implemented and taken to the IMO. “Safe ships are environmentally friendly ships,” said Mr.
Regarding the impact of ships on the environment, several issues are still to be improved in
terms of air emissions, sewage systems, garbage on board of boats and their recycling, and
the issue of ballast waters. As the sector is growing, improved port facilities are urgently
needed in order to tackle the environmental issues mentioned above.
Cruise ships are the greenest and the most technologically advanced sector of the shipping
industry. More investment is nonetheless needed as well as further cooperation between
ports in order to go further. Indeed, ports are a key component of sustainable tourism. Mr.
Ashdown stated that ports need to assume responsibility for their own operations: at the
moment, port initiatives focus too much on ships and there are no comparable indices for
green port operations to those of ships. He regretted the fact that environmental regulations
are seen as a potential revenue stream rather than for greater marine protection.
Mr. Ashdown stated that almost all European destinations offer immense cultural
opportunities. Many EU docks are within a few hundred yards of the destinations
themselves. Yet, he agreed that the impact of a cruise on the environment can be important.
That is why the industry’s duty is to protect both natural and cultural environment.
Mr. Ashdown concluded that the European cruise industry is a powerful vector for tourism.
There is a strong record on the fact that this industry minimises environmental impacts of
cruise ships. The challenge is now to work together with regulators to raise awareness on
the cruises environmental impacts, on understanding the respective stakeholders’
responsibilities and to develop regulations that achieve objectives at least costs.
Sustainable tourism in the river cruising sector
Helge Grammerstorf, President, IG River Cruise
Mr. Grammerstorf explained that the cruise tourism industry is divided between ocean
cruises and river cruises. He presented a comparison of the two modes of transport: river
cruise ships are considerably smaller than ocean ships. A typical river cruise vessel has an
average capacity of 150 passengers, depending on the size of the vessel.
Germany is the largest market for the river cruise industry followed by the US and UK
markets. Also Australia/New Zealand and Asian source markets are of increasing importance
for the European river cruise industry. Yet, trends show that the river cruise industry has
slightly decreased between 2005 and 2006 and then resumed growing steadily since 2006,
nevertheless at a slower pace than the ocean cruise industry. Interesting to note that, both
industries have grown during the credit crunch of 2007 to 2010 and have proved to be
resistant against other crisis’s in the past as well.
The river cruise industry has a direct impact on the European economy. It represents over
10.000 direct jobs on board of vessels and in administrative positions, and around 15.000
jobs outside vessels. It represents 500 million Euros of investment for the period 2012-2013
for building new vessels and revenues from passengers amounting to 1.3 billion Euros on
board of vessels and 450 million Euros onshore.
The river cruise industry also strives at being responsible. Safety measures of vessels are very
strict. Regarding sustainability, Mr. Grammerstorf stated that the river cruise industry has
lower air emissions than any other industry in the tourism sector. In terms of the output into
water, the cruise industry has a zero discharge policy of waste water. In terms of the output
into land, vessels have onboard waste treatment plant. Of course, he said, everything can
always be improved, that is why energy efficiency policies are being implemented.
Concerning safety river cruise ships provide a very high standard. Although the vessels are
always operating close to shore watertight doors are mandatory for modern river cruise
ships, which also comply with “safe-return-to-port” requirements by operating under a three
level redundancy system concerning power supply and propulsion.
In conclusion, Mr. Grammerstorf called for an optimisation of itineraries and for improved
port facilities to cope with more vessels to come and to provide sufficient reception facilities
for garbage and waste oil handling as well as to provide adequate shore power supply.
Linking sustainable maritime tourism to territorial development
Regis López Lang, European-UfM Manager, Odyssea
Mr. López Lang presented the Odyssea project, a European strategic project that proposes
innovative solutions for sustainable maritime tourism: it promotes a new way of travelling
and of discovering maritime heritage from the sea to the hinterland, discovering thematic
and cultural stopovers of elected cultural routes. It is also a label to promote and
communicate around the network at a global level.
The project integrates specific aspects with reference to four development processes:
identification of routes associated to local assets; the development of a specific governance
system; promotion of local economic enterprises and products; and tackling of
During the meeting, Mr. Regis Lopez Lang explained how the ODYSSEA model integrates
specific aspects of promotion of local economy, industry & products in order to develop
now-weak merchandising patterns and promote professionalism in quality services (co
branding process). With ODYSSEA the Marina is considered a gateway to the city and the
territory, in its complex historical and environmental heritage, as well as in its typical
productions; The Marina is defined as part of a strategic economical and territorial process,
capable at a time of reducing the environmental impact, increasing the offer and promoting,
the sustainable development of the mainland industry and services, as well as concretizing a
better use of ICT applications and tools by the enterprises and local authorities in the
ODYSSEA associates all the producers, local actors, nautical and tourism SMEs towards the
same objective of territorial development and sustainable growth with the help of ITC tools
and a co branding policy. The application of the ICT to various spaces of high and low
density, connecting the territories of the maritime and river littoral to the back country is
creating new synergies inducing an added-value for all the industry scale. This enables to
raise awareness among the actors and the consumers on the environmental aspects by
approaching them in an innovative way…
Debate with the audience
MEP Dieter-Lebrecht Koch asked the river cruise industry how they plan to grow.
Mr. Grammerstorf answered that the curves of the rivers and the bridges stop the size of
the vessels to grow but the number of vessel will increase.
Timo Schubert from ADS Insight asked the EC if it plans to include the river cruising sector to
the upcoming Communication.
Mrs. Tudini from DG Entreprise and Industry answered that all kinds of cruising vessels will
be analysed but it is too early to talk about the content of the Communication.
MEP Ayala Sender (S&D, Spain) asked the Commission what the agenda is regarding the
future Communication. She also asked the representatives from the industry what is done in
order to improve safety and accessibility. Finally, she asked if a tourism programme will be
created for the next financial period 2014-2020.
Mrs. Tudini answered that the Communication should be published by the end of 2012 or
the beginning of 2013. She recalled that DG MARE is the leader on the Communication.
Regarding a tourism programme, she noted that there probably will not be a programme as
such dedicated to tourism.
Ronald Vopel from DG MARE answered that even after the Lisbon Treaty the European
Commission will not have a full mandate for tourism. Member States are sensitive on the
subject. The long-term strategy is to deliver growth in terms of jobs, especially low qualified
jobs. The river cruise industry is not part of the maritime policy as such but the integrated
maritime policy developed a philosophy that looks at the value chain.
Mr. Ashdown explained that crews on board of ships follow constantly safety trainings.
Regarding accessibility and evacuation, he noted that all ships, no matter the size, have a
plan to evacuate the people within 30 minutes; for instance, although it has been a tragedy
to have casualties in the case of the Costa Concordia, it was overall a success in terms of
safety, knowing there were more than 3500 people on board that ship. Plans of evacuation
are developed according to people’s needs and specific conditions (people with reduced
mobility for instance).
Mr. Grammerstorf stressed that the crew on river cruise ships is also submitted to safety
trainings. Ships are also equipped with rooms and special exits for disabled people in case
that evacuation needed.
MEP Ayala Sender (S&D, Spain) asked if non-European ships are aware of the needs for
Mr. Grammerstorf answered that he talked only about European ships, others ships may
have different standards.
List of participants
Frederico Artico Office MEP Serracchiani
Ines Ayala Sender MEP
Maria Boni Office MEP Skylakakis
Maria Freitas Office MEPAlves
Aoife Kearney Office MEP Higgins
Dieter-Lebrecht Koch MEP
Giulia Luca Office MEP Fidanza
Niccolo Nosea Office MEP Antoniozzi
Danilo Pisciottu Office MEP Uggias
Deborah Segatti Office MEP Serracchiani
Katia Vesander Office MEP Sarvamaa
European Commission and Council
Cinzia De Marzo DG ENTER
Krista De Spiegeleer DG ENTER
Neophytos Nicolaides DG ENTER
Pedro Ortun DG ENTER
Ralf Tinga Council of Europe
Ronald Vopel DG MARE
Permanent Representations and Embassies
Ivy Banzon Embassy of Phillipines
Shali Ngali Kenyan Embassy
Soliman Ojeda Embassy of Venezuela
Charles Abbott SCOTLAND EUROPA
Robert Ashdown European Cruise Council
Inma Ballestin Catalan Agency of Tourism
Aude Boisseuil Region Bretagne, Pays de la Loire, Poitou-Charentes
Paolo Bonardi Focus Europe
Mar Bosch Catalan Agency of Tourism
Anna Breda Veneto Region Office
Jakub Budzynski POMORSKIE Regional EU Office
Laura Carniel ICLEI
Sergio Crespo Gines FEPORTS - Regional office of Valencia
Patrycja Anna Czerniak Coastal & Marine Union
Christina Dimopoulou REGIOEUROPA
Helge Grammerstorf IG River Cruise
Nela Hajkoua CZELO
Daniel Hosseus VDR – German Shipowners‘ Association
Christophe Jost Luther Pendragon Brussels
Alice Jude NECSTouR
Seidlova Marketa Tourism fr Czech
Federico Minozzi EUROAPARC
Julianna Nagy ELO
Regis Lopez-Lang Odyssea
Michela Petruzzo LES CCI ALPMED
Luisa Puccio ADS Insight
Carlos Rul-lan Rabassa NESCTouR
Karina Rembiewska Pomorskie Region
Carmen Riera Palau Centre Balears Europa
Rossella Rodeghiero Consulta Europa
Lynne Ross SCOTLAND EUROPA
Elise Roy Représentation de la Région Haute-Normandie
Cristina Scaletti Tuscany Regional Government
Timo Schubert ADS Insight
Justin Stares Maritimewatch
Rosemary Sweeney EBI
Bernd Torllel Torllel Consulting Gribtt
Taina Vilo City of Espco
Guillaume Yvan Clersé laboratory