Many European countries heavily rely on tourism for income and the tourism sector is facing severe economic hardship in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The European Commission is stepping up its support for the tourism sector to get back on track by promoting local, as well as sustainable tourism. The general public have now even more opportunities to discover Europe’s rich diversity of culture and nature in their own country or in another EU country all year round.

The interplay of light and shade, the impressive cloudy sky over the city of Delft.The subtle reflections in the water make this painting by Johannes Vermeer an absolute masterpiece.There is hardly a breath of wind. The city has an air of tranquility.

Digital technologies, such as immersive, virtual and augmented reality and 3D, are an increasingly important factor for success when it comes to attracting tourists to a destination. They offer new ways for creative expression and have the power to inspire new as well as regular audiences.

Europeana is Europe’s digital cultural platform. It is allows for responsible, sustainable and innovative tourism. With its vast digital collections of art artefacts, music, sound files, images of cultural heritage buildings and sites, as well as a budding collection of 3D images, Europeana can inspire people to discover beautiful cities and landscapes, historic places and hidden gems across Europe. Our cultural heritage serves as the glue between the past, present and the future helping people to learn about their history. To support tourism, Europeana has created a special section on the portal: Discovering Europe that allows the user to take a virtual journey across Europe from the comfort of their home.

Europeana’s portal for professionals, Europeana Pro, is creating and hosting a “Tourism Hub” in order to help heritage professionals to find initiatives and opportunities that support and drive tourism throughout the EU and within Member States.

Furthermore, Europeana Pro will invite professionals within the Europeana Network and Aggregator Forum to share their own examples and initiatives on the Hub. They will be encouraged to support the work further by sharing these within their own organisations and networks in order to widen the reach of the tourism initiative by Europeana.

The Commission expert group on Digital Cultural Heritage and Europeana (DCHE) will serve as a platform to publicise the initiative as well to share best practises going on at national level.

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) has been developing a web-app Culturalgems. The app offers a map-based interface, focusing on cities in Europe, retrieving key points of interest from OpenStreetMap. JRC have invited local residents and city representatives to contribute their favourite cultural and creative places, together with practical information and reviews.

The Commission has a clear medium and long-term vision to build a resilient and competitive tourism ecosystem in the EU as the world leader for responsible, sustainable and innovative tourism. There is a strong interdependency between culture, and in particular cultural heritage, and tourism, as many tourists chose their destination for its cultural heritage sites.

In the tourism and transport package, the European Commission presented actions to help diversify local tourism offer and connect the public to the diversity and richness of nature and culture in Europe. The communication “Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond” is also supporting the European platform for Digital Cultural Heritage, Europeana to develop its tourism angle highlighting European cultural jewels and hidden gems.