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Brussels, 19 November 2010

Commission welcomes recovery in the European tourism sector

Speaking at the European Tourism Forum in Malta today, European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani welcomed recent data on the impressive recovery of Europe's tourism industry as a sign of Europe’s overall economic recovery. The theme of the forum, 'Strengthening Europe's Role as the Leading Tourism Destination’, reflects the same optimism. To maintain growth, the development of sustainable, responsible and high quality tourism must be encouraged across Europe. Exciting new opportunities must be seized if Europe is to keep its position as the world’s leading tourist destination.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship said; "Europe is the world's leading tourist destination and we must keep it this way. New emerging markets, such as the Brazil, Russia, India and China, can offer an opportunity for Europe to maintain its growth rate, as the tourism industry can play a role in alleviating the effects of the crisis. Today, we are discussing a plan to successfully implement Europe’s tourism strategy. It is a clear roadmap for developing key actions such as the European Tourism Observatory, the Platform on Tourism and ICT and the European Quality Brand."

Tourism is estimated to generate over 5% of the EU’s GDP and provide jobs for around 10 million people. To continue its growth, Europe's tourism industry must look to the promising emerging markets of the BRIC countries, with China as a prominent example. Although in absolute terms North America is still by far the largest market in terms of incoming tourists to Europe, followed by Japan and Russia, China has the greatest potential, with a population of just over 1.3 billion and a growth rate of tourism expenditure concerning outbound tourism of 21% (UNWTO 2009). To seize the opportunities of new markets and strengthen its leading position, Europe as a destination must prove that it can combine high quality with sustainability.

The latest figures from Eurostat regarding international arrivals in 2010 indicate that the recovery of the tourism sector is underway, despite having faced problems such as the eruption of the Icelandic volcano. A comparison of the first six months of 2009 and 2010 demonstrate an increase in arrivals of 9% from North America, 8% from Japan, 18% from Russian Federation, 19% from China and an impressive 46% from Brazil. Furthermore, occupancy rates in Europe are up 5.4% in the third quarter of this year and industry figures have improved in every sub-region.

Among the topics discussed at this year’s European Tourism Forum (18-19 November) was the added value of a "Brand Europe” to complement regional and national promotional activities, strengthen Europe’s image abroad and encourage cooperation between Member States (such as cultural routes IP/10/1177) in the field of tourism. A ministerial debate focused on how to best implement the set of actions proposed by the Commission in its Communication of 30 June this year on “Europe, the world's No 1 tourist destination” (IP/10/858) in four priority areas:

  • Stimulating competitiveness in the European tourism sector;

  • Promoting the development of sustainable, responsible and high-quality tourism;

  • Consolidating the image of Europe as home to sustainable and high-quality destinations;

  • Maximising the potential of EU policies and financial instruments for the development of tourism.

The achievement of these objectives depends on the commitment of all stakeholders and on their capacity to work together at different levels. This was also stressed recently by the Council in its conclusions on a new political framework for tourism in Europe (12/10/10), underlining the importance of continuing successful Commission initiatives in this field and the need for an integrated approach at European, national and regional level.


The Lisbon Treaty that entered into force in December 2009 gave the EU new powers in the area of tourism, saying that "the Union shall complement the action of the member states in the tourism sector, in particular by promoting the competitiveness of Union undertakings in that sector" (Article 195).

More information

Commission website:

Council Conclusions:

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