News desk JEAN François Omnes, head of the tourism unit of the European Commission, warned yesterday that transport could prove to be a stumbling block to the arrival of a greater number of tourists to Europe in the future.

He said that Europe could not double its number of tourists by 2020 because it will not have adequate means of transport, according to a study of transport and infrastructure plans in Europe for 2020 carried out by the European Union.

He was speaking at the Seminar on Innovation and Tourism, currently being held in Palma.
He lamented what he saw as a lack of interest of the European Transport Association regarding matters related to tourism. “They say they have a lot of problems and that this is an additional problem,” he explained.
He added that in his opinion, the solution lies in reducing the weight of transport in tourism, a matter on which the Commission is now working. “It is necessory to seek new forms of tourism to find new tourists,” Omnes said, stressing the importance of the new technologies as a tool for improving company efficiency.

He mentioned new generation mobile phones which can locate a person in emergencies, provide information on the place visited and offer different types of service as one of the technologies with an impact on tourism.

He spoke out in favour of promoting co-operation in tourist matters among member states “to tackle difficulties which arose after September 11.” He added that the European Tourism Forum which will be held in Budapest next month will be an opportunity to discuss matters such as the effects of the expansion of the European Union or the development of sustainable tourism.

Omnes also announced the launch at the end of next year of a European tourism portal in internet to promote tourism.