Commission encourages efforts for sustainable tourism sector
Eugene Eteris, Baltic Course Scandinavian Office
Ways and means to strengthen tourism sector in Europe were discussed at the European Tourism Stakeholders Conference in Madrid recently. Main efforts seem to be devoted to verify the optimal actions to promote competitiveness and sustainable growth of European tourism.
The EU-27 needs a new strategic vision for the EUs tourism policy, acknowledged the Commission. EU tourism industry has to be consolidated and developed further on in close cooperation with the national and regional authorities and the EU private tourism stakeholders.
Tourism’s role in economy
Tourism is a key sector of the European economy. It comprises a wide variety of products and destinations and involves many different stakeholders, both public and private, with areas of competence very decentralised, often at regional and local levels.
Europe could embrace the quality, sustainable and accessible tourism that makes us unique in the world, thanks to its historical, artistic and cultural heritage, to the high quality formation of the personnel and to the attention paid to the environment.
The Lisbon Treaty acknowledges the importance of tourism, outlining, for the first time, a specific competence for the European Union in this field (with the decision-making procedures to be taken by qualified majority in the Council). This should reinforce Europe in general and the EU-27 states in particular as the foremost tourist destination in the world.
The EU tourism industry generates more than 5 per cent of the EU GDP, with about 1,8 mln enterprises employing around 5,2 per cent of the total labour force (approximately 9,7 mln jobs). When related sectors are taken into account, the estimated contribution of tourism to GDP creation is much higher: tourism indirectly generates more than 10 per cent of the EU’s GDP and provides about 12 per cent of the labour force.
«Tourism is one of the economic activities with most significant potential to generate future growth and employment in the EU. Like all the economic sectors, tourism was affected by the recent economic downturn, but has proven to be, nevertheless, one of the most resilient sectors, recently even showing signs of muted recovery and growth.»
Antonio Tajani, Vice-President, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship
Conference on tourism
The European Commission, in close collaboration with the Spanish rotating Council’s Presidency organised a European Tourism Stakeholders Conference (Madrid, 14-15 April 2010). Specific themes were discussed at the conference, e.g. innovation and competitiveness, sustainable and socially responsible tourism, as well as ways of reinforcing the image of Europe as a tourist destination. Ministers and State Secretaries from all EU and Candidate Countries shared their views, alongside senior officials representing European stakeholders and the private sector.
The outcome of the Conference will pave the way for a coordinated and coherent approach with forthcoming initiatives on tourism policy in Europe.
This Conference will issue a Declaration presented to the Commission; the conference coincides with an Informal Ministerial meeting on Tourism that will be soon hosted by the Spanish Presidency.