Summer is almost here (though you wouldn’t believe it by the weather), and the vacation season will again be upon us. “Vacations”, however, do not mean time spent in another European country; a Eurostat survey shows that Europeans spend 77% of their holidays in their own countries. On average, more than 3 out of 4 holiday trips made by EU citizens included a destination within their own country, and for nearly all Member States over half of all holiday trips were spent entirely within that country’s borders. The tourism sector, both domestic and abroad, is surely an important part of the economy, but could it also help build a sense of European identity?
Back in 2006, the European Commission launched the European Heritage Label, a scheme to “highlight heritage sites that celebrate and symbolise European integration, ideals and history”. The program, which is due to be further developed next year, aims at improving knowledge of European history and promoting shared European values, and in this way strengthening Europeans’ mutual understanding and sense of belonging. But is it doomed to failure? Or is this something that should be encouraged? Can we really call ourselves “Europeans” when we spend most of our time in our own countries?
What do YOU think? Should European cultural tourism be better promoted? Should Europeans be encouraged to discover other European countries? And could all this really strengthen European identity?