To facilitate the lives of tourists visiting the EU and to stimulate the European economy, the European Commission proposed important changes to the Schengen Area visa rules in April 2014.
To enhance the visibility of Europe as a tourist destination and increase international tourist arrivals, the European Commission undertakes a wide range of communication and promotion activities, as well as making it easier to travel to Europe.
2018: the EU-China Tourism year
2018 is the EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY). European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Chinese Prime Minister LI Keqiang first announced this in 2016. It's an opportunity to increase visitors and investments on both sides while EU and Chinese citizens get to know each other, contributing to the 'EU-China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue'.
See events under the ECTY supported by the Commission
China is the world’s largest travel market in terms of both outbound travel and expenditure. European destinations are strengthening their position in this market, attaining 10,1 million Chinese visitors in 2015. This accounts for a share of 13% of all outbound travel from China. The European Travel Commission opened its Operations’ Group in Beijing in 2010, leading to extensive intelligence on the Chinese market.
The main EU priorities are to
- show what the EU has to offer to Chinese visitors by supporting cooperative marketing campaigns
- help the industry to be 'China ready' (i.e. how to better welcome Chinese visitors)
- facilitate business summits
- organise Business to Business matchmaking meetings for tourism operators at the most important fairs
The European Commission is organising the Europe China Tourism Year (ECTY) together with the China National Tourism Administration (CNTY). An EU delegation visited the CNTA and during their meeting the importance of China-EU visa facilitation was stressed.
The European Tourism Commission (ETC) has been mandated by the European Commission to play a central role in cooperative marketing campaigns during the EU-China Tourism Year. Next to partners selected among leading European, Chinese and international companies, several key European associations will contribute to important events
- The European Travel Commission – the body set up by the National Tourism Organisations of European countries
- ETOA – the European Tourism Association
- HOTREC – the European association of hotels and restaurants
- ECTAA – the Group of national travel agents' and tour operators' associations within the EU
Preparatory steps, events and programmes are available on the dedicated EU-China Tourism Year website, including
- China Tourism Year Closing event in Xi’an, China (17 November 2018)
- EU-China high level conference on world heritage in Paris (29 October 2018)
- China Tourism Year Launch in Venice (19 January 2018)
- the first B2B matchmaking event at ITB China, the major travel and tourism fair in Shanghai, from 10 to 12 May 2017 enabling EU tourism players to look for Chinese buyers and partners
- a meeting (13 January 2017) presenting partnership options to EU regions and industry
- the first awareness raising event in London (3 November 2016), on the occasion of the launch of the 'World Bridge Tourism'
Europe, whenever you’re ready
From 2012 to 2014, the Commission ran its first international tourism campaign, ‘Europe,whenever you’re ready’ to encourage international tourists to discover Europe. The campaign had a large impact and plenty of social media coverage.
With contributions from well-known travel writers, journalists, and bloggers, this initiative highlighted Europe's diverse cultural and natural heritage, and showcased the wide variety of unique opportunities that the continent has to offer. Contributors’ first-hand experiences showcased not-to-be missed sights, as well as the ‘roads less travelled’ in a wide range of European destinations.
The booklet, ‘Europe, a thousand different stories - Six themes, one continent: a journey of a lifetime’, was published as part of the campaign.
Visit the website of Europe, whenever you’re ready.
Cooperation with the European Travel Commission
The Commission cooperates with the European Travel Commission (ETC), the non-profit organisation responsible for promoting Europe as an international tourist destination, in particular to non-EU countries.
Since 2012, the Commission has co-financed the preparation and implementation of a dedicated Destination Europe 2020 strategy – a programme of activities designed to increase the visibility of Europe as a destination in key long-haul markets.
The Commission and the ETC have also met businesses and potential tourists in major international events and travel fairs.
The ETC gathers 33 European National Tourism Organisations who collaborate and share best practices, and develop market intelligence for better marketing and promotion of ‘Destination Europe’.
The ETC is responsible for VisitEurope.com
Simplifying visa rules
According to a Commission study of 2012, a total of 6.6 million potential tourists from six target markets analysed were ‘lost’ due to difficulties with visa applications. In order to stimulate the European economy and to facilitate the arrival of tourists to the EU, the Commission proposed important changes to visa rules in April 2014.