EU policy - background
Europe is the world's no. 1 tourist destination, with the highest density and diversity of tourist attractions. As a result, the tourist industry has become a key sector of the European economy, generating over 10% of EU GDP (directly or indirectly) and employing 9.7m citizens in 1.8m businesses. Tourism contributes to:
- employment and regional development
- sustainable development
- an enhanced natural and cultural heritage
- shaping of a European identity.
Tourism is also an important means of promoting Europe's image in the world, projecting our values and promoting the European model – which is the result of centuries of cultural exchanges, linguistic diversity and creativity.
EU policy aims to promote tourism so as to maintain Europe's standing as a leading destination, and maximize the industry's contribution to growth and employment. The Lisbon Treaty specifically acknowledges the importance of tourism in Article 195 .
Policy objectives and implementation
Four priorities for action have been identified in the 2010 communication on tourism :
- stimulate competitiveness in the European tourism sector
- promote development of sustainable, responsible, high-quality tourism
- consolidate Europe's images as a collection of sustainable, high-quality destinations
- maximise the potential of EU financial policies for developing tourism.
The Commission has developed a rolling implementation plan [83 KB] , to be updated regularly, outlining major tourism-related initiatives to be implemented in collaboration with national, regional and local public authorities, tourism associations and other public/private tourism stakeholders.
Other EU policies impacting tourism
Other EU policies and programmes impacting tourism include:
- European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – supporting more sustainable patterns of tourism to enhance cultural and natural heritage, etc. Environment and transport are also financed by the Cohesion Fund.
- European Social Fund (ESF) – co financing projects to enhance productivity and quality of employment and services in the tourism sector through education and training. Targeted training & small start-up premiums for tourism micro-enterprises.
- European programmes for life-long learning and Erasmus for young entrepreneurs – enabling people to travel abroad to learn or train, for example in the tourism sector.
- European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) – support for improving the quality of agricultural products and the rural environment, and encouraging tourism as a way to diversify the rural economy.
- European Fisheries Fund (EFF) – encouraging diversification of fishery dependent areas through alternatives such as eco tourism.
- Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme – supporting the competitiveness of EU businesses, especially SMEs.
- Research supported under the 7th EU framework programme for research & technological development (ICT, satellite applications, cultural heritage, land use) may help the tourism sector.
Previous EU policy papers ("communications") on tourism
Policy document: COM(2007) 621 final
Sustainable practices to increase Europe's competitiveness as the most attractive tourism destination.
Policy document: COM(2006) 134 final
Delivering stronger, lasting growth and more and better jobs to respond to modern challenges, while making the best use of available resources and synergies.
Policy document: COM(2003) 716 final
Stressing the need to ensure consistency of various EU policies and measures affecting the sustainability and competitiveness of the industry. Calling for an EU wide drive to increase the economic, social and environmental sustainability of European tourism.
Policy document: COM(2001) 665 final
How best to exploit the European tourism sector's competitive potential.