With a view of cooperation fostering and inciting thematic exchanges PANORAMED accepted the EUSAIR invitation to participate in 4th Annual forum held in Budva (Montenegro) from May 7 to 8, 2019.

This high-level event was jointly organized by the Government of Montenegro, that was holding the Presidency of EUSAIR at the time, and the European Commission with the support of the strategic project EUSAIR Facility Point. The event gathered thematic experts and policy makers from across the EUSAIR region and beyond offering numerous possibilities for cooperation deepening and valuable exchanges. It was organized back to back and in coordination with the 2nd Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce, Cities and Universities.

The focus of this two-day event was on the fields of Blue Growth and Tourism. It was structured in plenary sessions with the participation of high-level policy makers coupled with focused thematic panels related to specific EUSAIR pillars.

In the framework of the event, the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Croatia, in the role of EUSAIR Pillar 4 Sustainable Tourism coordinator, organized and moderated a panel discussion entitled “Skills gaps and weaknesses of the tourism labour market, how to match skills to sector’s needs?” on May 8. The panel was chaired by Mr. Jean Pierre Halkin, Head of Unit in the EC Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy, and participants covered various levels of tourism management and governance, higher education included, guaranteeing vibrant and constructive exchanges among panelists and the audience as well.

Ivana Živković, member of PANORAMED WP5 Coastal and Maritime Tourism Leader team,  participated in the said session representing PANORAMED experiences in identifying main challenges in the coastal and maritime tourism in the MED area that led to developing the Terms of Reference (ToR) for future strategic projects. The ToR were a result of a complex process that was fed with information deriving from desk and field analysis of previously implemented and still running projects in the field of coastal and maritime tourism in MED area, focused consultations with PANORAMED thematic experts and contributions from PANORAMED Associated partners. The implemented analysis has helped to identify seasonality and weak cooperation as main challenges in the MED coastal and maritime tourism. Thus, the overall objective of future strategic projects will be devoted to increasing competitiveness and attractiveness of the MED destinations in the global tourism market. Consequently, one of the specific objectives of PANORAMED strategic projects is defined as: “Empowerment of actors in tourism value chain” whose aim is to contribute to increased capacity and improved skills along the tourism value chain, which should contribute to combating seasonality and building stronger cooperation in the area. Due to seasonality tourism, jobs are often marked as unstable, not attractive and uncompetitive, often occupied by socially vulnerable groups such as women and young people. Demographic changes across Europe are also greatly contributing to the lack of workforce. On the other hand, trends in tourism are evolving and visitors’ habits and expectations are rising, therefore education paradigm shift is becoming indispensable to meet the changing market demands presuming also continuous investments in skills building.

Expectedly, PANORAMED analyses were proven to be in line with major trends and issues in tourism, thus there were many common points feeding the joint discussion following the individual presentations by tourism experts in the framework of this constructive panel. 

General note on the panel topic

The overall panel topic is in line with the European Commission’s first political priority “A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment” and the New Skills Agenda for Europe adopted on June 10, 2016. The Agenda seeks to address three pressing challenges of today’s economies: the lack of relevant skills to match labour market needs, the insufficient transparency of skills and qualifications, and the difficulty to anticipate and forecast skills. It has launched the ‘Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills’ to deliver sector-specific skills solutions, facilitate the mobilization and coordination of key players, stimulate investment and encourage a more strategic use of EU and national funding opportunities. To this aim, the European Tourism Blueprint calls for a tourism sectors skills alliance between national/regional authorities and key European stakeholders from education, industry and policy making.