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Guide on EU funding for tourism

Guide on EU funding for tourism

This online guide highlights the wide range of funding programmes financed by the new budget, Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, and Next Generation EU. With these resources and this guide, we're supporting the move towards a more digital, sustainable and inclusive EU.

The guide will help you find appropriate funding. It contains links to relevant EU programme websites with the latest developments (such as annual work programmes or call for proposals) and further details per programme. For inspiration, you can also see concrete project examples funded by previous EU programmes.

How to use this guide?

This guide focuses on practical issues related to the most important EU funding programmes for the tourism sector. Find out about your eligibility, which activities are eligible, the different types of funding, and where to apply & when. For brevity's sake, the guide only covers what is essential to find the relevant programme.

Step 1: Identify the relevant programmes and financial instruments

Find the most relevant programmes through the online guide’s three questions.

  • On eligibility: Who can apply?
  • On the programme’s topic: Which actions can receive funding?
  • On the type of support: What kind of funding is available?

Disclaimer: For many programmes, a political agreement on the Commission's proposals for 2021-2027 has already been reached but several EU Programmes presented are pending formal approval by the European Parliament and the Council. Therefore, the information in this guide may be subject to future changes.

Step 2: Get familiar with the call-specific forms documentation (online)

Download the information package, usually including a 'guide' with advice on preparation and submission. If the information is not clear to you, feel free to use the dedicated interface (e.g. functional mailbox, online page, etc.).

Step 3: Find partners where useful or required

Some (sub)programmes support cross-border or trans-European projects. You may then need partners based in other EU countries to form a consortium.
Many programme websites or pages advertising a specific call contain a section where potential partners can post their offer or request.

Step 4: Submit your proposal, offer or application on time

Additional information

In 2020, the EU introduced a stimulus package worth €2.018 trillion (in current prices). It consists of the EU’s long-term budget for 2021 to 2027 under the multiannual financial framework and NextGenerationEU, a temporary instrument to power the recovery. These resources will be allocated toward the green deal, digitalisation, and unforeseen circumstances. 
 
Actors in the tourism ecosystem may also be eligible.
 
See the EU’s 2021-2027 long-term budget & NextGenerationEU.

Need technical assistance for project preparation or to find funding partners?

Local business support

  • Enterprise Europe Network – EEN offers SMEs free advice on funding opportunities through a network of local contact points. It also offers the possibility to find partners and create international partnerships. You can also see its 'Tourism and Cultural Heritage Sector Group'.
  • Professional organisations may also provide similar support.

Technical assistance for applicants

More useful links

Recovery and Resilience Facility

Recovery and Resilience Facility

The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is the centrepiece of Europe’s recovery plan, NextGenerationEU. It aims to mitigate the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 crisis and make European economies and societies more sustainable, resilient and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the green and digital transitions. It is relevant for all industrial ecosystems, including tourism. EU countries are responsible for developing national recovery and resilience plans, containing investments and reforms to address the key challenges identified in the European Semester framework, as well as to support the green and digital transition.

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cohesion Fund

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cohesion Fund

To strengthen the environmental, socioeconomic sustainability and resilience of tourism in the long term, regions and countries are encouraged to help transform the sector by learning from innovative solutions. Investments in tourism are possible through all 5 policy objectives supported by the ERDF (see below), provided that they comply with the relevant objectives, enabling conditions, or minimum requirements established for the concerned policy objectives.

European Social Fund Plus (ESF+)

European Social Fund Plus (ESF+)

The ESF+ is a key financial instrument in implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights, supporting jobs and skills, and creating a fair and socially inclusive society. It provides much -needed resources to EU countries for the recovery of our societies and economies after the coronavirus crisis.

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development

Many rural areas in the European Union suffer from structural problems such as a lack of attractive employment opportunities, skill shortages, under-investment in connectivity, infrastructures and essential services, as well as youth drain.  It is fundamental to strengthen the socio-economic fabric in those areas, particularly through job creation and generational renewal, bringing jobs and growth to rural areas, promoting social inclusion, and the development of ‘smart villages’ across the European countryside. New rural value chains such as renewable energy, the emerging bio-economy, the circular economy, and various types of tourism activities can offer good growth and job creation for rural areas.

European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF)

European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF)

The fund supports actions and investments that contribute to the protection of aquatic biodiversity and to sustainable and low-impact fishing and aquaculture activities. It also promotes the supply of quality and healthy seafood products to European consumers, supports the development of a sustainable blue economy in coastal communities, and contributes to maritime surveillance and international cooperation on ocean governance.

LIFE Programme

LIFE Programme

Why is it relevant to tourism?

The LIFE Programme funds projects in environment and climate action. Tourism activities related to green transition can benefit from the programme. Particularly tourism projects supporting the circular economy, energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, as well as climate-neutrality may be eligible for funding.

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is the research and innovation framework programme, running from 2021-2027.

Horizon Europe will have a budget of around € 95.5 billion for 2021-2027 (in current prices). This includes €5.4 billion from NextGenerationEU to boost the economic recovery and make the EU more resilient for the future, as well as an additional reinforcement of €4.5 billion.

Creative Europe Programme

Creative Europe Programme

Creative Europe is the European Union's programme for support to the cultural and creative sectors, including the audio-visual sector. The general objectives of the Creative Europe Programme are

  • to safeguard, develop and promote European cultural and linguistic diversity and heritage
  • to increase the competitiveness and the economic potential of the cultural and creative sectors, in particular the audio-visual sector

Erasmus+

Erasmus+

Tourism organisations wanting to participate in Erasmus+ may engage in a number of development and networking activities in the fields of academic and vocational training, schools, adult learning, youth and European sport events. Projects can cover mobility, developing competence and employability of young people in tourism, digital skills in cultural heritage, learning hospitality, and tourism research innovation.

Just Transition Fund (JTF)

Just Transition Fund (JTF)

The Fund aims to reduce the social and economic costs resulting from the transition to an EU climate-neutral economy by supporting diversification of economic activity, creating new business opportunities and helping people adapt to a changing labour market. To tourism SMEs, the fund can provide investments in fixed capital or immaterial assets.

Digital Europe Programme

Digital Europe Programme

With a planned overall budget of €7.5 billion (in current prices), the Digital Europe Programme will shape and support the digital transformation of Europe’s society and economy, with the ultimate goal of supporting the strategic autonomy of the EU single market. The Digital Europe programme will reinforce EU-critical digital capacities by focusing on the key areas of artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, advanced computing, data infrastructure, governance and processing, and their deployment and best use for critical sectors like energy and environment, manufacturing, agriculture and health. The programme is strategic in supporting the digital transformation of the EU industrial ecosystems.

Single Market Programme (SMP)

Single Market Programme (SMP)

Why is it relevant to tourism?

The SMP Work Programme 2021 aims to provide EU countries the tools to recover and repair from the Covid-19 crisis. The final objective is to make the Single Market stronger and more resilient. The 2021 work programme is composed of five annexes, which are aligned with the overall objectives of the SMP. Annex 2 is relevant for the field as it focuses on improving the competitiveness of enterprises, particularly SMEs, and supporting their access to markets, including businesses from the tourism sector.

InvestEU

InvestEU

Tourism, and consequently all actors involved in the field, are under unprecedented pressure because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The contraction is especially challenging for SMEs and family businesses. Therefore, the InvestEU programme will promote investments to strengthen tourism’s competitiveness, sustainability, and value chains. It will facilitate sustainable, innovative and digital measures, which could help reduce the sector’s climate and environmental footprint.

REACT-EU

REACT-EU

As a part of the NextGenerationEU, REACT-EU will provide an additional €50.6 billion (in current prices) for assistance aimed at fostering development in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its social consequences, as well as preparing a green, digital and resilient recovery of the economy. Special attention will be paid to regions that were hard-hit by the crisis due to their dependence on the most affected sectors, such as tourism and culture. Since REACT-EU will be channelled through the 2014-2020 cohesion policy, the support possibilities for the tourism sector under the ERDF and the ESF in the current programming period will apply to these additional resources. The covers, for example, working capital and productive investments in SMEs, investments in green and digital transition or training of workers.

Support by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

Support by European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

Projects financed by EBRD address a wide area of sustainable practices and associated market trends in tourism. Out of the EBRD’s 39 countries of operation, 12 are located within the EU. There are 3 programmes with specific relevance to the tourism sector, providing beneficiaries with a combination of financing and technical assistance