Brussels, 30 June 2010
Tourism: keeping Europe the world's top destination
Keeping Europe the world's top tourist destination is the objective of a Communication1 tabled by the European Commission today. With 370 million international arrivals in 2008, Europe has more than 40% of the global figure - a position which needs to be retained. However the fast changing worldwide economy impacts on the tourism sector with some important changes concerning tourist behaviour and markets of origin. While flagging challenges such as seasonality and an aging population, the Commission document outlines a policy that aims at supporting this essential sector of the European economy and proposes initiatives to promote its competitiveness, its sustainable and quality-based development and the visibility of Europe as an outstanding tourist destination.
Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Entrepreneurship and Industry including the internal market for goods, said: “The Lisbon Treaty has for the first time ever set a community framework for European tourism. This gives us the opportunity to work on a policy that exploits the variety that our tourism sector has to offer to European and non-European tourists alike. We therefore need to keep Europe’s tourism industry at the forefront of innovative solutions. In return, this will create more jobs and a more sustainable and differentiated tourism offer. It will be hard work, but it is our aim to keep Europe the world's top tourist destination. Today’s communication lays down 21 actions that will thrust Europe’s tourism industry to the 21st century."
Tourism plays an important role in our economy. It comprises 1.8 million enterprises, many of these being small and medium-sized businesses. It also caters for 5.2% of employment and contributes to more than 5% of European GDP.
The coming years offer a number of challenges and opportunities that need a concerted approach at a European level, while respecting the different features present in Member States at all levels. European destinations face increasing competition from other global destinations. On the other hand Europe can also attract tourists from emerging markets willing to spend their vacation over here. The current demographic trend will mean that in a few years time we will have more aged tourists – our tourism products and our infrastructure has to be well-catered for that. Our tourism products also need to be more sustainable, thus taking into account commitments related to climate change and dependence on water and energy for example. The ever-developing information and communication technologies also offer new opportunities that need to be tapped.
To keep Europe the world's top tourist destination, the Commission communication proposes 21 actions (see MEMO/10/289 for full list of actions) including:
1. Improve the competitiveness of the tourist sector in Europe.
2. Promote the development of sustainable, responsible and quality-oriented tourism
3. Consolidate the image and the visibility of Europe as a set of sustainable and high quality destinations
4. Bolster the integration of tourism in the EU policies and financial instruments
Tourism is inevitably interlinked with other policies. For this reason, the Commission will improve integration and coordination of policies impacting on tourism, such as passengers' rights, consumer protection and the internal market.