My name is Álvaro Rodrigo, from Marbella, Málaga (Spain). I am expert in tourism planning and management and during the last five months I had the pleasure to provide some interesting news here for you at Tourism Around Europe Blog, as I was spending an apprenticeship period in the premises of JLAG in Brussels. Thanks to the advice of Jlag team, all the activities I performed have been really successful and useful for my future as young entrepreneur.
Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs Programme (EYE) is part of the European Union policies specially addressed to support young people like me with entrepreneurial motivations, but lacking in experience and knowledge, to set up their own business. We are allowed for a certain period to share time with successful entrepreneurs willing to expand their technical skills and market knowledge, by hosting promising entrepreneurs. At the end it is much more than that, it is an exchange of unexpected information, discovering new horizons and multiplying job, client & market opportunities.
After being twice awarded, once by the management heading tourism students association at the University, and the other one by designing an innovative tourism project company which I have been trying to set up as freelance, I faced a difficult entrepreneurial start, specially due to the deep crisis situation in my country. This drove me to find solutions in a different context: the EYE Programme in JLAG was the “lifeboat” in the right time and place.
European tourism policies and opportunities have been undoubtedly the best surprise I found in Brussels. Led by Silvia Barbone and her team, I was able to be involved in the creative and multicultural world of European tourism projects, participating in very interesting preparatory actions launched by the European Commission Directorate General Enterprise and Industry: the 50.000 tourists deseasonalizing project, the diverse transnational tourism products calls, Calypso initiative on social tourism, or even the CIP-EIP-Eco-Innovation or the 7th Framework Programme.
European Union tourism initiatives, in the present time from my point of view, are on the right track, but the role of tourism should increase to adapt to the reality is facing, as tourism is a key driver and has to achieve this recognition, as well as professionals working within it.
For me it is a pity not being here to celebrate the next European Tourism Day on September 27th, but anyway I get other great things, as it is the opportunity to develop my career in the tourism industry that I love since I was a child, and now, thanks to JLAG and the new knowledge I gained, I am closer to create my own company and help growing my region, Andalusia, and my country which is going through some really dramatic times, that will mark its future as a nation.
Fortunately, if managed in the right way and if we all keep pushing hard, tourism will always be a source for economic growth.