The BSPC Working Group on Sustainable Tourism held its 4th meeting back-to-back to the 9 Baltic Sea Tourism Conference in Pärnu, Estonia, 18 – 20 October. As expert Rainer Aavik, the Deputy Mayor of Pärnu City Government, attended the meeting and provided the WG members a presentation concerning the tourism concept of Pärnu. Rainer Aavik explained that tourism in the „summer capital of Estonia“ focusses on „high end“ consumers and the demand markets from Finland and Sweden. Furthermore, the offers in the winter saison were customized at new demands so that among the „high end consumers“ also the new generation are targeted. As result, the city of Pärnu was nearly fully booked in the last year, especially at the week-ends.
Further to the presentation, the members of the Working Group discussed the distribution of budgets and taxes in their states and regions. The attendees especially presented their different taxation models and tax incentives in the tourism sector. In general, it can be seen as a trend that tourism is a growing sector so that the fiscal policies in the Baltic Sea states have to react on these tendencies.
9th Baltic Sea Tourism Forum – Speech by Sylvia Bretschneider
Following the Working Group meeting, the members participated at the 9th Baltic Sea Tourism Forum. This year’s conference focussed on two thematic priority areas: seasonality (1st conference day) and sustainability (2nd conference day). As chairwoman of the Working Group, Sylvia Bretschneider provided the participants of the forum a status report about the Working Group at the second day. She stressed that against the background that tourism sector is a competitive market, cooperation and the exchange of experiences are very important to achieve the promotion of the entire Baltic Sea region. Even though, there are already good examples of the intensive cooperation, like that forum itself, the close connection of all Baltic rim states needs to be further strengthened. Sylvia Bretschneider requested the participants to get in contact with the attendant Working Group members and to give them new ideas and inspirations for the improvement of the legal and political framework in the tourism sector.
Participation of Sara Kemetter at expert debate
As vice-chair of the Working Group Sara Kemetter also contributed to the Baltic Sea Tourism Forum. She participated at an expert debate with Dario Bazargan (Cruise Lines International Association – CLIA), Krista Kampus (Council of the Baltic Sea States – CBSS) and the moderator Jana Apih (Institute Factory of Sustainable Tourism, GoodPlace). Sara Kemetter also emphasized the importance of cooperation as an aspect of sustainability. As an example she mentioned that environmental challenges, like the pollution from the rivers, can only be jointly solved. Furthermore, she presented the participants the perspective from Åland. Åland has developed a back casting plan to achieve total sustainability until 2051. For this aim, they installed a Ministry for Sustainability and Economy which is supposed to monitor this process.
The following parliamentarians participated at the 4th Working Group meeting: Sylvia Bretschneider (Parliament of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), Sara Kemetter (Parliament of Åland), Andre Sepp (Parliament of Estonia), Grzegorz Matusiak (Parliament Poland) and Pyry Niemi (Parliament Sweden).
The upcoming WG meeting will be convened in Brussels, 23 – 24 January 2017, back-to-back to the Standing Committee meeting (23 January 2017).