Brussels, 21 March 2006
Globalisation, demographic changes and the evolution in transport are decisive factors in driving the rapid growth of the European tourism industry. About two million tourism enterprises employ about 4% of the total EU labour force, representing approximately eight million jobs. Although Europe is the most visited region of the world, international tourist arrivals are growing at a lower rate than the world average. New competing destinations are emerging, which further increase the competition the EU is facing at a global level. Faced with these challenges, the Commission has tabled a proposal to improve, in partnership with all stakeholders, the competitiveness of the tourism industry. As many tourists see Europe as a single destination, the Commission has launched a new web portal “Visit Europe” to promote EU destinations.
At the European Tourism Ministers’ Conference “Tourism - Key to Growth and Employment in Europe" in Vienna today, Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen said: “Europe is the world leading tourist destination. But we need to do more to keep our competitive edge. Our proposals add European value to the efforts by member states. They will help to promote the EU as unique tourism destination in a more effective and co-ordinated way.”
The main elements of the new policy:
”Visit Europe” - A new European Tourist Destinations web portal: To contribute to the marketing of Europe, the Commission financed the creation of a web portal (www.visiteurope.com). It includes practical information about Europe, such as travel planning (transportation, weather and calendar) or recommendations on “where to go” and “what to do” and links towards national web sites. It will be managed by the European Travel Commission.
The involvement of tourism-related SMEs to the hosting of cultural and sporting events held in Europe will be effectively promoted.
In implementing this policy, the Commission will develop a close partnership with Member States’ authorities and the tourism stakeholders. Partnerships must be a central component of action at all levels (European, national, regional and local; public and private). As a general rule, European tourism policy should be complementary to policies carried out in Member States.
Tourism is a cross-cutting sector impacting on many other sectors, such as transport, construction, retail and on the numerous sectors that produce holiday products or provide leisure and business travel-related services. Although some big international companies contribute to this sector, it is mainly dominated by SMEs. In its most narrow definition the tourism industry creates more than 4% of the EU GDP. When the links to other sectors are taken into account, the contribution of tourism to GDP is estimated up to 11% and it provides employment to more than 24 million people (12% of total labour force).
New European Tourist Destinations Portal:
Commission website on tourism: