ECF was invited to participate in a stakeholder consultation webinar to share experiences and views with the Rapporteur on 16 July 2020. Jill Warren and Jesus Freire took part in the consultation for ECF and also submitted a short position paper to make the case for investing in cycle tourism.
Stakeholders were in broad agreement that strategic investments in sustainable tourism are needed to ensure a safe recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to deliver on the commitments of the EU Green Deal.
Further points that Jesus and Jill highlighted in their contributions to the consultation and the position paper included the following:
Sustainable, healthy and inclusive
Cycle tourism is one of the most sustainable and healthy holiday options that exists. It continues to grow in popularity in Europe, as people increasingly opt for active, environmentally friendly holidays. The further development of long-distance cycle routes such as the EuroVelo network, and the rise in the use of e-bikes, have also boosted cycle tourism by making cycling holidays even more attractive and inclusive for people of all ages and abilities.
Boosts local economies
The economic benefits of cycle tourism are substantial, contributing 44 billion Euros and over 500,000 jobs to the European economy each year. Cycle tourists bring many positive benefits to local economies by visiting areas less frequented by mainstream tourists and spending their money in local businesses. Local residents also benefit from the cycling route infrastructure, regional connectivity and services to accommodate cycle tourists.
More investment is key to unlocking cycle tourism’s potential
There is so much more potential for cycle tourism, but substantial, strategic investment is required to fully realise it and to enable it to play its part in delivering the EU Green Deal.
ECF calls on the EU to make at least €3bn in funding available to cities and regions for required investments to enable and boost sustainable, environmentally friendly cycle tourism. This would include investments for:
- The provision and signage of further high-quality, safe and direct cycle routes
- The development of cycle-friendly services, amenities and concepts to attract and cater for increasing numbers of cycle tourists
- The promotion of cycle tourism and European cities and regions as cycle tourism destinations
- An increase in financial support provided to EuroVelo coordination centres and/or establishing new ones, in partnership and collaboration with all relevant stakeholders to implement and manage the routes.
We also call on the EU to recognise EuroVelo as another TEN-T (Trans-European Transport Network) in addition to existing networks such as road, rail or inland waterways, in the upcoming TEN-T revision. This will make the cycling networks easier and cheaper to develop in future.
We hope the European Commission will heed our calls to #RestartCycleTourism and engineer a lasting shift towards more sustainable, healthy tourism in Europe.
ECF’s #RestartCycleTourism campaign seeks to raise awareness, promote cycle tourism and secure strategic investments in it as a safe, sustainable and healthy option for holidaymakers and leisure cyclists during the pandemic recovery and beyond.
Author(s): Jill Warren, co-CEO, European Cyclists’ Federation