It was only a matter of time before real consequences for the tourism industry following Brexit were to appear. Last week the European Commission decided that the title of ‘European Capital of Culture’ (ECC) will not be going to any British destination. Bad news for Dundee, Nottingham, Leeds, Milton Keynes and the consortium of Belfast/Londonderry/Strabane – that were in the running of becoming the ECC for 2023.
The decision to not appoint a British city the European Capital of Culture title is a direct consequence of British vote for Brexit last year. With the British government aiming for a ‘hard Brexit’ it results in the United Kingdom no longer being a member of the European Economic Space (EES), one of the criteria of becoming the ECC, along with being a member of the EU or an aspirant member. If the UK does leave the EU in 2019, it will no longer fall in any of these categories.
While the title of European Capital of Culture is a project by the European Union, other non-member but European countries such as Norway, Turkey and Iceland have held this title and aspiring member Serbia has received an accolade for 2021. Holding this title results in great attention by the media and thus the public and causes a boost in incoming tourism.
The ‘Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’ of Great Britain has responded to the EU’s decision: “we are deeply disappointed” by this decision and it’s holding “urgent discussions with the commission on the matter.”
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon is not at all happy with this decision as the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU while Scotland individually voted to remain. Sturgeon said: “Dundee’s European Capital of Culture bid looks as if it is going to be the latest victim of the Tories’ obsession with taking this country out of the European Union against our will, and they should hang their heads in shame.”
The European Capitals of Culture for 2018 are Leeuwarden (The Netherlands) and Valletta (Malta).