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Unlocking the potential of EU coastal and island tourism - 20/02/2014

View of Mykonos, windmill and old port with Cruise ship © Shutterstock

New strategy aims to address challenges facing Europe’s growing tourism industry to help it develop and become more competitive.

Europe is the world’s number 1 tourist destination, accounting for 534 million tourist arrivals - 52% of arrivals worldwide - and revenues of €356bn in 2012.

Coastal and maritime tourism includes both beach-based activities (e.g. sun-bathing, swimming, and surfing) and water-based activities (e.g. cruising, yachting, and nautical sports), as well land-based services like hotels, equipment manufacturers and charter businesses.

Employing nearly 3.2 million people, seaside tourism is not only the largest sub-sector of tourism, but also the economic backbone of many coastal regions and islands in Europe. However, a lack of funding, cooperation and skills means the sector’s full potential has yet to be realised.

The EU highlighted coastal and maritime tourism as an industry with a high potential for growth and jobs in its Blue Growth Strategy and has outlined actions to help coastal regions reach their potential, whilst ensuring long-term development is sustainable.

The proposed actions include:

  • closer cooperation and partnerships across the EU between all stakeholders (ports, cruise operators, authorities…)
  • more support for SMEs including: an online funding guide, promotional campaigns, and management schemes
  • promoting ecotourism and research into innovative tourism strategies for islands and marina development.

The EU hopes the strategy will complement existing initiatives developed by member countries, regions and other stakeholders. It also hopes to see seaside tourism issues integrated into existing programmes and policies.

Industry leaders and other interested parties will be invited to develop new business models, as well as new and innovative products, to boost the sector’s growth potential and curb the environmental impact of tourism-related activities.

Next steps

A conference organised with the Greek presidency on 10 March in Athens will bring together all the key players in the tourism industry to discuss the strategy. Implementation of concrete actions will follow in the coming months.

Press release - Commission strategy to promote coastal and maritime tourism

Q&A - Promoting coastal and maritime tourism

Coastal and maritime tourism

EU tourism policy

Magnetic Europe: Big plans for tourism industry

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