Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Understanding public assistance programmes

Understanding public assistance programmes

Public assistance programmes provide the tourism sector with support and/or development aid from public administration.


Chart showing public assistance programmes at an EU and a national level. EU financing goes towards transnational tourism projects as well as national projects. National financing goes towards a national tourism strategy or plan, which then leads to public tourism projects and programmes.

Funding comes from a variety of sources and can be used for a variety of purposes. There is a wide range of public programmes, with goals such as:

  • increasing tourism
  • improving tourist destinations
  • increasing competitiveness

Broadly speaking, you can differentiate between:

  • programmes financed by the EU and transnational funds
  • national programmes, with financing usually from government funds – these programmes mostly result from national guidelines or tourism strategy, where the government sets out the main lines of action in tourism

Public programmes in tourism generally follow one of 2 main lines of action:


Chart showing the 2 main lines of action of public tourism programmes. The first is to strengthen the competitiveness of enterprises. The second is to strengthen tourism destinations.

  • programmes aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of enterprises – these include projects which:
    • improve the quality of tourism facilities
    • support technological innovation
    • provide training activities for human resources companies
    • provide marketing support
  • programmes aimed at strengthening tourist destinations – these indirectly create benefits for entrepreneurs, and include projects which:
    • promote destinations
    • create new products
    • rehabilitate and/or improve tourism infrastructure
    • invest in nature and/or culture

See more in the guide on EU funding for the tourism sector 2014-2020.