Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, says the days of overseas vacations being a luxury are gone. He believes subsidizing holidays in the sun for seniors, the disable, young adults and poor families will build pride in European culture, bring north and south closer together and prop up resorts in the off season.
“Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,” he said.
The pilot project is to begin in 2013. It will encourage northerners to head to the sunny south. A harder sell may be persuading southerners to head north. The program will also pay for seniors and the disabled to take a companion.
If the program becomes universal, it will cost EU taxpayers as much as half a billion dollars a year.