AN overseas holiday used to be thought of as a reward for a year’s hard work. Now Brussels has declared that tourism is a human right and pensioners, youths and those too poor to afford it should have their travel subsidised by the taxpayer.
Under the scheme, British pensioners could be given cut-price trips to Spain, while Greek teenagers could be taken around disused mills in Manchester to experience the cultural diversity of Europe.
The idea for the subsidised tours is the brainchild of Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, who was appointed by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister.
… The scheme could cost hundreds of millions of pounds a year.
… Tajani, who unveiled his plan last week at a ministerial conference in Madrid, believes the days when holidays were a luxury have gone. “Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,” he said.
Tajani, who used to be transport commissioner, said he had been able to “affirm the rights of passengers” in his previous office and the next step was to ensure people’s “right to be tourists”.
The European Union has experience of subsidised holidays. In February the European parliament paid contributions of up to 52% towards an eight-day skiing trip in the Italian Alps for 80 children of Eurocrats.
Tajani’s programme will be piloted until 2013 and then put into full operation. It will be open to pensioners and anyone over 65, young people between 18 and 25, families facing “difficult social, financial or personal” circumstances and disabled people.
Now all Europe has to do is to get its volcano-hit airlines industry in order (oh, and find the money to pay for all these free vacations).