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Celebrating the World Tourism Day with good figures for 2013

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On World Tourism Day, September 27th, Europe has good news to report. Latest figures show that the summer tourism season was a success, and that many jobs in this sector are currently available.

At the time when most EU Member countries struggle with high unemployment and economic difficulties, and when European manufacturing sector suffers, good news come out of the tourism sector. According to the latest UNWTO figures, during the first half of 2013, international tourist arrivals in Europe grew by 5 % compared to last year, with best results recorded in Central and Eastern Europe (+ 9 %) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+ 6 %).

More visitors mean not only increased profits in tourism and hospitality, but also more jobs, which is especially important for ailing economies such as Greece, Spain and Portugal. The tourism sector currently employs around 18,8 million people across the EU but what is even more important – currently there are tens of thousands of job openings in tourism across Europe. Jobs in the tourism industry are especially interesting for the young workforce which currently faces a 23.5 % unemployment rate.

Filling the tourism jobs with qualified workers

Alhtough jobs in tourism exist, companies in this sector often have problems locating people with the right qualifications. To that effect the European Commission, together with public employment services at national and regional level, has put in place EURES, the first pan-European job mobility portal. Currently the commission is working on further improving the tourism section of that portal, making it even more user friendly both for the employers and the job-seekers. For example, a new feature will soon make it much easier for companies to compare candidate's skills, competencies and professional training, regardless of their country of origin and language in which the skills were acquired. Specific sub-sections will also be developed for the adventure, maritime and cultural tourism sectors. This will help these various sectors improve their offer and to remain competitive on the world market.

Along with summer, winter and spring were strong too

The new UNWTO World Tourism Barometer figures, along with the data from National Tourism and Statistic Offices, confirm the results of the Flash Eurobarometer survey Attitudes of Europeans towards Tourism (IP/13/200) and go along with the results of the winter and spring seasons which showed positive tourism trends earlier in the year.

Good season for the rest of the world as well

Positive tourism growth has been recorded in the rest of the world as well. According to the UNWTO, destinations around the world welcomed an estimated 494 million overnight visitors in the first half of 2013. This represents an increase of 5 % or an additional 25 million international tourist arrivals, compared to the same period 2012. Results were positive in all regions and subregions, though the overall picture was mixed: growth was stronger in the emerging economy destinations (+ 6 %) than in advanced economies (+ 4 %), a trend which has marked the sector for many years now. Europe performed better than expected.

Growth is expected to continue in the second half of 2013 but at a gradually slower pace. UNWTO forecasts 2013 to end at 4% or slightly above, thus exceeding the initial estimate for the year.

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