Fine Gael MEP candidate for Dublin, Frances Fitzgerald TD, has today called for the introduction of a free digital European Citizens Travel Card offering discounts on public transport, museums and other services.
"The introduction of a free digital European Citizens’ Travel Card would bring enormous benefits to travellers and SMEs operating in the tourism industry. This scheme would not involve creating a new physical card but would be done in the form of an app, funded through the EU budget, that would offer discounted prices on public transport, museums and other tourist attractions. Tourist operators would have to opt into the scheme, but the discounts would be covered directly by EU funding.
"It would boost tourism to Ireland and benefit the huge amount of SMEs operating in the sector. SMEs are the backbone of our economy and create a vast number of jobs in the tourism sector. Fáilte Ireland estimates that total employment in the tourism sector stands at approximately 240,000.
"One of the EU institutions, the European Committee of the Regions, has already started work on this initiative with a proposal launched in 2018.
"The initiative would complement the current EU interrailing scheme which offers free interrailing tickets to 18 year olds who want to travel around Europe. The whole idea is that people are encouraged to experience Europe, its history and its diversity of culture and languages. The values of open borders, free movement and cultural diversity are under threat in Europe at the moment. We need to step up the fight against this populist nationalist wave and defend the open Europe that Ireland has cherished for so many years.
"There is means to introduce a European Citizens’ Travel Card through the next 7-year EU budget from 2021-2027 either through cohesion funds or through a separate budget line. If elected to the European Parliament, I will propose a pilot project for this initiative through the European Parliament's budget committee, something that any MEP can do once per year.
“Tourism contributes to a positive attitude towards Europe, the European Union and to a greater openness and understanding for other cultures, states and regions. Concrete initiatives like this, which brings tangible benefits to traveling EU citizens, need to be supported and developed."