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Working Groups' Reports

The Working group reports contributed to the Commission Communication "Working together for the future of European tourism".

In the framework of the process "Tourism and Employment" the Commission and the Member States agreed to set up four working groups, each one dealing with one of the four topics specified in the Council conclusions adopted on 21 June 1999. These groups started working in February 2000. In addition, a special working group (Working Group E) started work in early 2001. All groups tabled their reports on recommendations in the summer 2001.

Working Group A - Facilitating the exchange and dissemination of information, notably through new technologies

Working Group A complete final report pdf - 233 KB [233 KB] .


Based on a comprehensive list of potential stakeholders and typology of information, as well as a tentative cross analysis of information required by category of stakeholder the following most urgent information needs were identified: volume and trends of tourism demand, characteristics of domestic and international (inbound/outbound) visitors, economic role of tourism and impacts, structure and characteristics of tourism activities by sector, inventory and characteristics of primary resources, and inventory of legislation and regulation on tourism.

The majority of existing information sources and tools cover demand as well as supply, economic role and impacts, human resources, legislation and financing, entities as well as databases and documentation. Coverage of these issues varies considerably from Member State to Member State. Moreover, for national sample surveys Member States do not dispose of a common quality standard for exact technical and investigative methods. Therefore, data cannot be summarised or correlated to a plausible European Union trend over years. Furthermore, the implementation and practice of Council Directive 95/57/EC on the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism must still be regarded as insufficient.

The policies and measures for the purpose of disseminating information on tourism-related topics were grouped in 8 main categories: Methodological documents; Documents summarising tourism statistics and socio-economic results of tourism; Oral presentations; CD-Rom; Internet, Discussion and information exchange forums; Databases; Tourism promotion platforms vs. Destination Management Systems; Tourism products commercialisation platforms.

The most relevant gaps in the different categories regarding sources and tools, as well as other typologies of information gaps were identified and result in 5 recommendations:

  1. Better assessment of the economic role and analysis of tourism impacts;
  1. Improved internal and external diffusion and communication of information between stakeholders;
  1. Destination information for Europe: How to inform guests for a better fruition;
  1. Tourism demand analysis, marketing research and origin market analysis;
  1. Information systems: Labour market, training and education supply (see WG B).

Starting from these recommendations, 3 priority actions have been selected that should be put into practice in the short/medium term:

  • Promote and enhance accessibility and dissemination of information, particularly for SMEs, merging new technologies and traditional tools.
  • Facilitate and support the creation of destination/area/sector partnerships between different stakeholders for the exchange of information and good practices.
  • Support and encourage implementation of Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA).

Working Group B - Improving training in order to upgrade skills in the tourism industry

Working Group B complete final report pdf - 200 KB [200 KB] .


The main learning and training needs regarding the principle categories of workforce of the different stakeholders in tourism, especially workers and managers of SMEs, show that tourism is on the one hand still characterised by a workforce with a relatively low level of skill for the majority of jobs in the basic sub-sectors (e.g. Horeca), in particular regarding SMEs. On the other hand there exists a new demand for additional skills, for example ICT, and the big players and larger enterprises have normally found ways and means to develop a skilled labour force.

The principle obstacles encountered in upgrading skills are:

  • lack of labour force and high level of staff turnover;
  • low image and particular working conditions of the tourism industry as a place to work, including seasonality;
  • lack of basic qualification that could be upgraded;
  • reduced competitiveness in micro-enterprises due to lacking development of labour.

Strategies and measures designed to upgrade skills in the tourism industry show a trend towards more holistic solutions based on partnerships and dialogue between training institutions, the tourism industry and other major stakeholders, like public authorities. They go beyond training and regard in a wider sense "learning", clearly combining teaching and practical experience elements.

The direct correlation between learning, employment and labour environment makes it necessary to take into account the economic and social dimensions when wanting to upgrade skills. This can be developed towards a common philosophy on learning, the approach of so-called Learning Areas, which involve all tourism and training stakeholders in the learning and innovation process through active practical co-operation and networking, resulting in improved competitiveness.

The existing contribution and potential of Community policies and programmes mainly relate to training and education (LEONARDO DA VINCI, SOCRATES, and TEMPUS), employment (EQUAL), and educational organisation networking (ALFA). Applied to upgrading skills in the tourist industry, they allow the development of innovative ideas. Furthermore, Structural Funds could be better used to implement innovative solutions.

The conclusions of the working group were formulated with regard to three priority areas: Attracting skilled labour to the sector; Retaining and developing skilled labour in the sector; Supporting micro-enterprises at regional and local level for improving competitiveness. Besides the recommendation put forward to promote efforts for the creation of a 'Euro-Pass for learning in tourism', the basis for two actions were developed more in detail, with a view to implementation:

  • A Permanent Observatory on Learning, employment and labour environment in the tourism sector: gathering, monitoring, generating, providing updated information and fostering debates on key issues on those matters in order to improve the knowledge (qualitative and quantitative), with the main objective to provide strategic information for ensuring sustainable competitiveness for tourism.
  • A 'Handbook for learning areas in the tourism industry' : practical guide for action to transform learning into innovation, taking into account the "fragile" reality regarding human resources (economic and social dimension); considering a way (mix between: strategic information, learning and advice/guidance) to provide learning which is more complex than classic training, and using bottom-up / top-down approaches, partnership and co-operation between all stakeholders concerned.

Working Group C - Improving the quality of tourist products

Working Group C complete final report pdf - 191 KB [191 KB] .


The working group agreed on a definition of quality in tourism in line with that of the World Tourism Organisation, emphasising that quality is the perception by the tourist of the extent to which his expectations are met by his experience of the product. Quality is not to be equated to luxury, and must not be exclusive, but must be available to all tourists, including those with special needs.

The tourist product should be seen as the destination and process resulting in the tourist's overall experience. The key stakeholders are organisations fulfilling the roles of: policy makers, destination management and quality control; suppliers of tourist sub-products; commercial intermediaries; training suppliers; the guests, and the host population.

An in-depth analysis of the quality policies and methodologies adopted within the different Member States identified among the relevant strategies and measures: ISO 9000 and 14000 series; the EFQM methodology; star classification systems; various country specific quality systems.

The assessment of the contribution of relevant Community policies and programmes to quality in tourism revealed the following policy areas as particularly relevant to quality development: structural policies; consumer protection; environmental policies; transport and enterprise policies. Of these, the Structural Funds offered the most potential to directly influence quality improvement in tourism.

The working group identified four priority areas requiring specific efforts in the European Community context, with the following conclusions and recommendations:

  • Indicators for the measurement of the quality improvement process : Quality improvement is a cyclical and continuing process, and as such must be able to be measured and evaluated. A list of appropriate indicators is regarded as a management tool for use by those responsible for the different aspects of quality improvement, e.g. destination management. The group elaborated a framework together with an indicative list of possible indicators.
  • Benchmarking at the European level : Benchmarking of destinations will help to ensure quality improvement and could benefit from common quality indicators. It should be a voluntary exercise, lead by the destinations, supported by information-exchange procedures based on networking.
  • Non-financial support for tourism SMEs implementing quality systems : e.g. consultancy, business advice, fora, etc. should be improved to encourage adoption of a quality approach, this in preference to direct financial aid, which risks distorting local competition.
  • More intensive use of EU structural funds to improve the quality of tourist products: The structural funds should concentrate resources on creating the framework for tourism business development, rather than supporting individual enterprises or destinations, (e.g. through training, infrastructure improvement, non-financial business support). Tourism authorities in all Member States should be actively integrated into the implementation and operation of structural fund programmes. There is a need for better dissemination of information on the operation of structural funds programmes throughout the tourism industry.

Working Group D - Promoting environmental protection and sustainable development in tourism

Working Group D complete final report pdf - 196 KB [196 KB] français (fr) .


Considering the economic, social, and environmental dimensions, the group agreed to work on the basis of World Tourism Organisation definition of sustainable tourism :

"Sustainable tourism development meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social, and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and life support systems."

The active participation and commitment of all identified stakeholders towards the effective implementation of sustainable tourism principles in their respective areas of competence is crucial. More specific contributions regard their respective competence fields, such as those of destination management and tour operators, but also the tourists themselves.

The experts highlighted a number of strategies and measures taken at competent level to promote sustainable development in tourism, such as the Mediterranean and Baltic Agenda 21, Destination 21 in Denmark, and the Calvià (Balearic Islands, Spain) Local Agenda 21.

Although tourism is not a Community competence, the sustainability measures put in practice under the various Community policies and programmes that have an impact on tourism, are increasingly important. This concerns, for example, the European strategy for sustainable development, the 6th Environmental Action Plan, the Cardiff integration process and other sector strategies, such as energy and transport. Despite recognition of its fundamental importance, mainly with a view to contributing to a Community strategy for sustainable development, the mandatory principle of pursuing environmental integration into all sector policies is, however, not yet implemented for tourism.

The working group developed its conclusions and recommendations around the issue of an Agenda 21 for Tourism in Europe. In this context, strategic guidelines for the sustainable development of transport in connection with tourism are of specific importance. The group worked on defining a methodological approach for an EU Agenda 21 for Tourism, with a view to raising the attention of all stakeholders on the need to commit jointly to implementing such a strategy that would be non-binding.

The objectives to be achieved (preventing and minimising environmental and territorial tourism impacts in destinations; managing transport growth; encouraging a local driven industry, and promoting responsible tourism as a socio-cultural development factor) require actions to be implemented at the appropriate decision-making levels. Co-ordination and partnership action at all levels, information sharing and voluntary approaches, and setting up the measures to enhance competitiveness of European enterprises are seen as the main premises. The experts also attribute to the European Commission an important role for implementation. Instruments proposed are:

  • a political co-operation and partnership driven body, set up on the basis of a consensus finding approach, to identify and define priority targets for achieving sustainability principles in tourism;
  • a technical body ("tourism observatory") providing know-how and expertise and undertaking regular monitoring and reporting on the basis of reliable indicators.

Working Group E - Managing the impact and the use of Information and Communication technology based services in the tourism sector

Working Group E complete final report pdf - 140 KB [140 KB] .


In order to identify the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) based Services with a major relevance for public and private stakeholders in tourism, the working group agreed on the following common definition of ICT based services:

"ICT based services" refers to the use of digital electronic methods and tools to gather, process, share and distribute information throughout the tourism value chain. Digital electronic methods and tools can be software applications and components, data, formal specifications, standards or devices supporting a specific set of tourism related business processes".

Three categories of services were identified as having a major impact on the tourism sector: development of networking facilities, interoperability and systems integration, and finally a new set of applications for enterprise management and electronic commerce.

The assessment of the awareness, accessibility and use of these services by the different tourism stakeholders has shown that tourism stakeholders are using ICT differently, based on main factors, such as their core competence, their size and their relative position in the tourism value chain. The level of awareness and access also differs by type of stakeholder (traditional distribution channels, accommodation services, consumers, destination management organisations, tourism administration and transport).

Strategies and supporting measures at European, national or regional levels do exist. Access to the relevant information, in particular for SMEs, was perceived as the main bottleneck for the tourism actors to benefit from them (e.g., IST programme, measures under regional policy, actions under e-Europe like Go digital).

Three types of gaps with regard to strategies and measures have been specified. The first group refers to the need to accelerate the legal and fiscal harmonisation at European level, in relation with the others relevant actors, as a mean towards a stable legal framework worldwide. The second group refers to the insufficient priority given to the development of content and the inadequate access to information, at all levels. The third group refers to the need for innovative approaches and solutions for SMEs to fully integrate them into the world of ICT based technologies.

The following recommendations for actions have been set up:

  1. Establish a European knowledge network for e-Tourism, giving access to relevant information and knowledge on a widespread platform and based on existing European, national and regional centres. They will act as review/knowledge centres, close enough to the different tourism stakeholders to facilitate the access to and collection of tourism information. It will provide the necessary know-how for the adoption of ICT based services by the tourism stakeholders, in particular for SMEs.
  1. Set up 2 specials interest Working Groups for urgent issues. The first one on "mobile e-Commerce services for tourism" should evaluate the need for new innovative mobile services and propose measures for their development and use. The second one on "assessing existing legislation & tax regulations" with regard to its application in a digital tourism environment.
  1. Establishing a Support Centre to enhance market integration for SMEs and destinations through Destination Management Systems and services for SMEs.

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