The European Union Presidency is a major challenge for the hospitality industry
I am extremely pleased for the opportunity to address all the members and friends of Euhofa in this newsletter at a time that is crucial for the Republic of Estonia...
From 1 July to 31 December 2017, Estonia holds the presidency of the European Union for the very first time. Presidency of the European Union is a Member State responsible for organizing the work of the Council of the European Union. The presidency is assigned through rotation for six months. The main objective of Estonian presidency is to maintain the uniformity and decision-making capability of the EU.
Estonia has set the following topics as the priorities of its presidency:
· An open and innovative European economy
· A safe and secure Europe
· A digital Europe and the free movement of data
· An inclusive and sustainable Europe
Education and research, including tourism education and studies also have their say about these important themes both now and in the future. Through their activity, the objectives listed above can be supported both by those that have acquired their tourism-related education at the Pärnu College of the University of Tartu, as well as at all the other members schools of Euhofa.
Presidency is a common undertaking of all of Estonia, providing opportunities not only to the public sector, but also to Estonian enterprises and the civic society. During our presidency, we can arise topics important for the whole Europe as well as Estonia, initiate discussions with a wide impact, and promote the international visibility of Estonia. This is a serious challenge.
Over its presidency, Estonia will organize more than 2,000 meetings in Brussels and approximately 230 events in Estonia. The informal meetings held in Estonia provide the opportunity to highlight important topics and help form shared positions. The events held both in Brussels and locally afford the unique opportunity to introduce Estonia as the presiding state. The events organized in Estonia are expected to be attended by more than 20,000 foreign visitors over the six-month period. Therefore, the presidency is essential from the tourism standpoint as well, and we are especially pleased that many alumni of the Pärnu College of the University of Tartu are involved in the events connected with presidency in one way or another.
According to Verni Loodmaa, the Chairman of the Management Board of the Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association (EHRL), the awe-inspiring number is not that special, as in high season, Port of Tallinn along with its operators serves the same magnitude of tourist numbers within a day. Adding the air transport managed by Tallinn Airport, Estonian hospitality convincingly proves its worth. When we say hospitality industry, we mean close to 96,000 people employed by Estonian accommodation and catering enterprises, whose daily task is to ensure the satisfaction of all Estonian residents and visitors. Undoubtedly, the second half of 2017 is special about the demands of arriving guests. While a cruise tourist arrives in Tallinn for a day and walks around town with a photo camera, the pace and energy related to the presidency of the EU is quite a bit more serious. The Estonian hospitality industry is ready for presidency, and cooperation with the relevant state authorities is running smoothly.
In 2016, tourism made up 10.2% of Estonian export and 31.5% of export of services. Almost every sixth working-aged person was employed in the tourism sector.
The following year of 2018 is another exceptional year for Estonia, as it is the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. The official anniversary committee has been formed with the Government Office, while all regions, areas of activity, enterprises and organizations, including institutions of education are striving towards making their own dignified contribution in the celebrations of the country’s 100th birthday, which is also expected to give a boost to domestic tourism. As part of celebrating the centenary of the Republic of Estonia, a book series consisting of 44 books on the story of the one hundred years of Estonia will be published over 2018 within the anniversary events approved by the Government Office. Every book will give an overview of the hundred years in an important walk of life in Estonia. These books have been written by specialists that have profound knowledge about their respective area of expertise. Our college is especially pleased that writing the book A Hundred Years of Estonian Tourism was trusted with Dr Heli Tooman, the Associate Professor of Tourist Economy at the Pärnu College and a long-term member of Euhofa. During the research for preparing the manuscript, Heli has conducted tens of interviews with people that have been active in Estonian tourism for a long time and made significant contributions in its development, including promoters of tourism education, such as the Pärnu College alumni, whereof more than 20 have already been published in Estonian tourism magazines.
2019 will be another year of celebration. We will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of establishing the native-language university in Tartu by King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden in 1632.
Director of University of Tartu Pärnu College