The extraordinary beauty, cultural wealth and great diversity of EU's coastal areas have made them the preferred destination for many holidaymakers in Europe and abroad, making coastal and maritime tourism an important tourism sector. Employing over 3.2 million people, this sector generates a total of € 183 billion in gross value added and representing over one third of the maritime economy. As much as 51% of bed capacity in hotels across Europe is concentrated in regions with a sea border.
As part of EU's Blue Growth strategy, the coastal and maritime tourism sector has been identified as an area with special potential to foster a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe. It is the biggest maritime sector in terms of gross value added and employment and, according to the Blue Growth Study, is expected to grow by 2-3% by 2020. In 2012, Cruise tourism alone represents 330,000 jobs and a direct turnover of €15.5 billion and is expected to grow.
The European Maritime Day (EMD) 2013 focused on coastal and maritime tourism and was the opportunity to introduce the results of a public consultation launched to prepare a communication on coastal and maritime tourism. The EU Commission adopted a Communication on "A European Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism" on 20 February 2014, presenting a new strategy to enhance coastal and maritime tourism in Europe in order to unlock the potential of this promising sector.
The Commission has identified 14 actions which can help the sector grow sustainably and provide added impetus to Europe's coastal regions (including its overseas countries and territories). For example, the Commission proposes to develop an online guide to the main funding opportunities available for the sector and to support the development of trans-national and interregional partnerships, networks, clusters and smart specialisation strategies in coastal and maritime tourism. The Commission will work with Member States, regional and local authorities and the industry to implement these actions. For more information, please check Questions and Answers on the European strategy for coastal and maritime tourism.
In line with action 14 of the European Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism (COM 2014 86), the European Commission has published an Annex to the "Guide on EU funding for the tourism sector" focusing on coastal and maritime tourism related projects. This initiative aims at providing operators with information on projects which have been awarded EU funding in order to inspire them on possible ways to apply for financial assistance for the development of sustainable and innovative tourism projects in coastal areas.