Why is it relevant to tourism?
The European Investment Bank is the lending arm of the European Union. The EIB offers loans, guarantees, equity investments and advisory services. It operates both in the EU and around the world. About 90% of its funding goes to EU countries to support continued development and integration. The EIB provides economic support to sectors that contribute significantly to growth, employment, regional cohesion and environmental sustainability in Europe and beyond.
In the EU, lending to the tourism sector is primarily done under the objectives of the EIB's corporate operational plan (COP) to promote regional development in priority cohesion regions. This involves developing infrastructure and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The latter are particularly important for the tourism sector by passing on the economic and employment benefits of tourism to other sectors of the economy.
EIB lending in the tourism sector has also addressed market failures in all regions of the EU, with a focus on EIB priority cohesion regions and neighbouring countries. For example, in emerging tourism destinations that are not always marketed effectively. Longer-term planning and investment may also be hindered by the risk of changing public sector priorities in the short term.
The EIB has financed the development of tourism infrastructure, particularly mobility. A lack of mobility infrastructure has often discouraged investment by the tourism industry in poorer regions, leading to local market failure. Finally, the EIB is in a position to meet small financing needs through its multi-beneficiary intermediated loan (MBIL) activity. It could also use additional programmes and schemes to address market gaps. For instance, dedicated investment platforms in countries where the market is still highly fragmented and larger operators are not yet present.
As the European climate bank, the EIB has made a commitment to have up to 50% of all lending operations to deliver both climate action and environmental sustainability. These commitments are in line with the EU taxonomy on sustainable finance and the bank’s own policy objectives. In practical terms for tourism, these objectives can be achieved through energy efficiency upgrades, water conservation measures, circular economy practices, preventing pollution, and protecting and restoring natural habitats. Since 2021, all projects funded by the EIB must align with the Paris Agreement.
The EIB directly finances tourism projects and through intermediaries, particularly SMEs through multi-beneficiary intermediated loans. These are provided both within and outside the EU with both public and private promoters. Projects focus on hotels and resorts, cultural heritage and cultural infrastructure like museums and concert halls, as well as theme parks and other visitor attractions. In addition, the EIB’s financing for the following types of projects contributes significantly to the tourism sector
local supply chain development
water and wastewater treatment
EIB support for the sector also contributes to the bank's objectives of promoting youth employment. It also boosts and improves women's employment and entrepreneurship under the recently adopted EIB group strategy for gender equality and economic empowerment. However, many jobs in the tourism sector are seasonal, low-skilled, part-time and low-paid. This makes labour standards, employment quality and training important considerations for the bank's due diligence.
Finally, EIB lending to tourism has led to significant additionality in its operations in this sector. In financial terms, additionality enables the extension of typical loan repayment periods. It also helps with demonstration effects and raising of other funding from national promotional banks. This is particularly important in the priority cohesion regions.
EIB funding criteria for tourism
EU policies for tourism are diverse. Given how diverse the sector is, projects are eligible under several of the EIB’s objectives. There is also a degree of flexibility for within the existing eligibility and public policy objectives. To date, EIB financing has been based on the following eligibility criteria.
SME development:Tourism investments by SMEs are eligible for Multi-beneficiary Intermediated Loans (MBIL), provided the amount does not exceed €50 million. The bank’s assessment is based on the complexity of the individual projects. Most of the due diligence is delegated to the intermediary bank, as it is a typical loan type and the individual MBIL investments in tourism are usually small and well below the €50 million threshold.
Urban regeneration: The EIB can also finance tourism projects thatare an important part of wider urban regeneration projects within and outside the EU. Eligibility is conditional on how the project proposal is integrated into urban regeneration plans for the economic, social and environmental transformation of a specific area or neighbourhood. This criteria is explained in the urban lending overview.
Regional development in cohesion regions: Since it began financing tourism projects inside the EU, EIB direct lending to the sector has contributed support to less developed regions and cohesion regions. These areas are currently EIB priority cohesion regions.
EIB support for tourism under InvestEU
Tourism investments have a strong private sector focus and are explicitly mentioned in the relevant regulations. they are suitable for EIB financing through the InvestEU guarantee programme. This guarantee allows the EIB to finance tourism projects that are higher risk. For example, through sharing risks with promotional banks, lending to lower-rated companies and the private sector financing services.
The EIB Group’s response to the COVID-19 crisis
Examples of supported projects
Project Title: OHT loan for SMES and mid-caps
Description: This project concerns a loan for small and medium-size investments in the Austrian tourism sector by SMEs and mid-caps. It mainly addresses difficulties faced by these companies in accessing finance. The project is being carried out by an intermediary (OHT) with in-depth experience in implementing EIB projects in tourist sector. The project aims to sustain employment in tourism and is aligned with the EIB's Climate Action Strategy through a significant target. The EIB's contribution to the success of this project is based on attractive pricing, and a signalling effect that may help bring in additional financing.
EU contribution: €150,000,000
Level of EU funding: N/A
Project Title: Alba leasing loan for SMEs and mid-caps VII
Description: This EIB loan is intended for financing SMEs and mid-caps in industrial services, tourism and agriculture sectors via long-term leasing schemes. This project will also contribute to supporting recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. A large portion of the new SME portfolio (estimated around 60%) will be located in the severely affected regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna.
EU contribution: €394,000,000
Level of EU funding: N/A
Project Title: France Investissement Tourisme 2
Description: France Investissement Tourisme 2 is an equity/quasi-equity fund managed by Bpifrance Investissement targeting French SMEs and small mid-caps in the tourism sector. The fund will provide support to about 100 SMEs and mid-caps between 2020 and 2023. A significant share of the investments made by France Investissement Tourisme 2’s investee companies concerns renovating tourist accomodation. This will create a positive environmental outcome through energy savings and a reduction in CO2 emissions. In addition, the development of greener and more resource-efficient infrastructure and activities is increasingly in market demand, and in line with the EU's policies on tourism.
EU contribution: €60,000,000
Level of EU funding: 25%