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Tourism – a vital role for Europe and vice versa

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Today, at around 12.15, President Barroso will give a speech at the 17th tourism summit in Berlin.

He will remind of the mutually beneficial effects of tourism and European integration, and underline in particular also the importance of the four freedoms of the Single Market for a flourishing tourism sector.

He is likely to say: "If the true purpose of the European project is 'not to unify States but to unite people', then the importance of the tourism sector to achieve this goal is enormous. More than anything, over the decades, Europe's citizens travelling from their own country to other European countries has brought our continent together. In the people's experience, travel has made European unity something tangible, beneficial and attractive. Tourism has made it ever more natural to be 'European'. Therefore it has contributed to forging a European identity, based on Europe's cultural diversity. At the same time, vice versa the importance of Europe for the tourism sector is equally vital. Where would tourism be today without the four freedoms of the single European market? Without the free movement of goods, of services, of capital, and, of course, of persons."

He will also underline the economic importance of tourism and its role as an indicator of our growth performance and consumer confidence. He will draw attention to the fact that tourism resisted and is now recovering from the crisis better than most sectors. He will recall that the integration of markets to the benefit of companies and consumers, which is so crucial for tourism, is a continuing effort. He will stress that there will be no way back to the 'old normal', but we are finding our way towards a 'new normal', based on a changed growth model that will make the Union more resilient and competitive.

President Barroso is expected to characterise tourism as a "powerful engine for domestic demand-driven growth, for instance in Germany, where this is currently the subject of an important debate. But it is equally important in the wider European rebalancing exercise, since Mediterranean Europe has performed even better than average in recent years." He will remind that this region is the top holiday destination worldwide, with 18% of market share: "Spain is leading the way with 34 million tourists between January and July, and a 4% rise in international arrivals compared to last year. Greece (+ 9.2%), Malta (+10 %) and Portugal (+8 %) all reported healthy growth. Another reason to cherish the tourism industry's to Europe's growth and job creation."

Last but not least, President Barroso will recall how the Commission aims at fostering the competitiveness of the tourism sector by creating a favourable environment for enterprises and for cooperation among Member States.

More information:

The speech will be broadcast here.

Read the President's speech

Video from the summit