(Press release) The European Commission has published the awaited Communication (COM(2016) 543), regarding its proposal to the European Parliament and Council to designate 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH). The proposal includes several references to tourism, particularly sustainable cultural tourism.
In particular, one of the three main objectives of EYCH2018 includes interalia ‘to promote sustainable tourism’, as well as ‘to underpin the cultural and creative industries and inspire creation’ and ‘enhance social cohesion and generate long-term employment’. Furthermore, one if the specific objectives is to: ‘encourage local development strategies that tap into the potential of heritage including through the promotion of sustainable cultural tourism’. Another specific objective calls for: ‘stronger interaction between the cultural and creative sectors and communities and the heritage sector’ and ‘promote heritage as a source of inspiration for contemporary creation and innovation’.
Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said: “Our cultural heritage is more than the memory of our past; it is the key to our future. A European Year of Cultural Heritage will be an opportunity to raise awareness of the social and economic importance of cultural heritage and to promote European excellence in the sector. I call on the European Parliament and Council to support our proposal and invite all stakeholders to help make this year a success.”
The proposal recognises that cultural heritage plays a strong economic role. Over 300,000 people are directly employed in the European cultural heritage sector and 7.8 million European jobs are indirectly linked to cultural heritage, for example in tourism. According to the Commission, the 2018 Year of Cultural Heritage will be an occasion to highlight the importance of European culture, and what the EU can do regarding conservation, digitisation, infrastructure, research and the development of skills. Events will be organised across Europe, as well as information, education and awareness-raising campaigns. It will provide an opportunity to seek answers to the challenges of decreasing public budgets in culture, declining participation in traditional cultural activities, environmental pressures on heritage sites, evolving value chains and digital transformation.
The Communication acknowledges the role of the ‘European Heritage Alliance 3.3’ (EHA) in facilitating the rich debate at EU level regarding policy developments on cultural heritage. EHA brings together relevant networks and organisations, coordinated by Europa Nostra. Alliance 3.3 refers to Article 3.3 of the ‘Treaty on European Union’ that states: ‘… the EU shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and shall ensure that Europe’s cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced’.