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Tourism boost if holidays co-ordinated

PUBLISHED: 11:04 12 October 2001 | UPDATED: 15:18 03 March 2010

TOURISM could receive a much needed boost if all European public holidays were to be co-ordinated, according to voices close to the European Commission.

TOURISM could receive a much needed boost if all European public holidays were to be co-ordinated, according to voices close to the European Commission.

The news comes from the Ipswich branch of accountants and business advisers PKF, who maintain a watch on European Union issues. The firm said that discussions in the Tourism Council in Brussels earlier this week considered the prospects for sharing common holidays across the EU.

The idea was put forward by the Austrian delegation, who proposed measures such as adapting school holiday dates and greater seasonal price differentiation for hotels and other tourist facilities. Although the chance of co-ordination was described as 'extremely limited', member states will be asked for their views.

The Commission wishes to identify examples of the "tourism dimension" in other EU policy areas, though it is recognised that the terrorist attacks in the United States may have a significant impact on the tourism industry.

PKF explain that the prospect of co-ordinated public holidays would however be likely to mean more time off for us in Britain, since traditionally European countries tend to have several more public holidays than we do. Although that would no doubt prove popular with workers, business is much more likely to remain sceptical about it effects on productivity.

Keith Ferguson, PKF Ipswich partner said he can see the motivation behind the idea of co-ordinated holidays, but feels it may become almost as emotive an issue as the Euro.

"Clearly our local tourist industry has suffered as well as everywhere else, and we need to look closely at whatever can be done to revive it," he said.

"This suggestion from Brussels might mean that hotels for example would be able to plan for European visitors with more certainty, but it's probably impractical. There is also likely to be a cultural problem.

"As a former U.S. Ambassador observed, European public holidays tend to celebrate revolutions, the beginning of spring, independence, or great poets and statesmen.

"Whereas in Britain, we prefer to mark the fact that the Bank of England is closed for the day.'

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