More than 13 EU member states have backed Croatia's initiative to strengthen cooperation between European countries so that tourism becomes more visible through EU committees and funds, and so that it is taken more seriously as a sector which can help in economic development and crises, Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said on Tuesday.
"Launching such an initiative in Sofia last year, I was confident that many countries would become involved, especially since tourism has not really been represented in EU bodies and funds so far, nor financing for tourism projects," he told Croatian reporters at the World Travel Market in London.
"Now several more countries at the WTM have supported us in that, such as tourism power Spain, which advocates combining tourism and transport."
Cappelli said more and more countries were for such an initiative because of the problems in the tourism sector such as labour shortage, higher taxes and certain crises, such as the one in Greek tourism because of migrants or lack of funding for tourism development projects.
"We expect that during Croatia's presidency of the Council of the EU, possibly already in January 2020, we could publish a declaration on cooperation to launch an EU tourism fund which would be used to finance development projects as well as help countries whose tourism is suffering because of war, migrants, natural disasters and other crises."
At the WTM, Cappelli met the tourism ministers of Albania, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and the UK as well as the leaders of the World Tourism Organization. Almost all have shown interest in Croatia's tourism development models and eVisitor, the tourism turnover electronic monitoring system, he said.