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Richard Eberhardt Meets Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel in Berlin

RDA President Richard Eberhardt requests a change of regulations for environmental protection zones for coaches.

Dr. Angela Merkel, Ernst Hinsken and Richard Eberhardt during ITB 2009

Dr. Angela Merkel, Ernst Hinsken and Richard Eberhardt during ITB 2009

Importance of coach tourism for Germany confirmed

Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel invited select leaders of the German tourism industry for a discussion at the Chancellery in Berlin on September 10th. RDA President Richard Eberhardt represented the interests of coach tourism and its partners, as well as interests of gbk-classified coach companies.

The tourism representative for the Federal Government, Ernst Hinsken, member of the Federal Parliament, Petra Hedorfer, executive chairwoman of the German National Tourist Office, and Reinhard Meyer, President of the DTV (the German Association of Tourism), explained the importance of incoming business for German tourism.  Klaus Laepple, president of the BTW, pointed out the importance of tourism for Germany. At the moment,  it is business travel which suffers most from the present crisis, that is why the market is divided. Merkel commended the farsighted behaviour of German people, who have not yet been unsettled by the crisis.

RDA President Richard Eberhardt pointed out the important economic and socio-political functions of coach tourism. In Germany alone, around 120 million people travel by coach for vacation, tours and day trips. Coach tourism contributes considerably to German tourism as a whole and to incoming business as well. Federal Chancellor Merkel has been impressed by the economic power of tourism and the far-reaching dimensions of aggregate value added, and she referred to the touristic guidelines of Federal Government.
In preparation for the discussion, the RDA presented a summary of the most important demands of the sector, which shows the importance of coach tourism.  A few of these demands are free access for coaches in environmental protection zones, reduction of fiscal discrimination, and permanent release from toll charges, a theme which often is discussed before elections.

The coach is the most environmentally friendly means of public transportation, with the lowest emission levels of all motor vehicles, but it suffers from great fiscal disadvantages in competition with German Railways and flights. The RDA strongly emphasized the disadvantages of undifferentiated inclusion of the coach in the regulations of environmental protection zones, which can only be described as ecologically and economically counterproductive.  Eberhardt sustains that, with the current policies, figurative walls will be constructed around cities.  This kind of politics is not worthwhile, not at all. Dr. Angela Merkel promised to seek a solution to this problem, although it is subject to European legislation.

Coach companies, tour operators and their partners are mostly small and medium-sized companies, which contribute to the economy’s growth, and ensure hundred of thousands of jobs, stated the RDA President.

During the discussion, RDA President Richard Eberhardt, Dr. Rembert Euling, chairman of the REWE Tourism, Ernst Fischer, President of DEHOGA, Michael Frenzel, executive chairman of TUI, Roland Mack, managing partner of Europa-Park, and Wolfgang Steinbruck, President of bdo, talked about the status of tourism in the face of the present crisis.

Dr. Angela Merkel has showed great interest in the problem of discrimination against coaches.  In his summary of the meeting, Richard Eberhardt stated that Federal Chancellor Merkel has said “Yes” to German tourism.

**Eberhardt represent GPN Germany