Why is it relevant to tourism?
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 the EIB's priority cohesion regions through infrastructure development and support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The latter are particularly important for the tourism sector for 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, e.g. in emerging tourism destinations where destinations are not always marketed effectively and where longer-term planning and investment is hampered by the risk of public sector priorities changing in the short term. The EIB has financed the development of tourism infrastructure, in particular mobility infrastructure, the lack of which 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 explore additional instruments to address market gaps, such as dedicated investment platforms in countries where the market is still highly fragmented and larger operators are not yet present.
EIB, as the European climate bank, has made a commitment to have up to 50% of all lending operations to deliver both climate action and envrionmental sustainability under the EU taxonomy on sustainable finance and the bank’s own policy objectives. In practical terms related to Tourism, these are achievable through energy efficiency upgrades, water conservation measures, circular economy principles, pollution prevention and the protection and restoration of natural habitats. Since 2021 all projects funded by EIB must align to the Paris Agreement.
The EIB finances tourism projects directly and through intermediaries (in particular SMEs through multi-beneficiary intermediated loans) both within and outside the EU, with both public and private promoters. Projects focus on hotels and resorts, cultural heritage and cultural infrastructure (museums, concert halls, etc.) as well as theme parks and other visitor attractions. In addition, the Bank's financing for local supply chain development, infrastructure such as mobility infrastructure, water and wastewater treatment, and urban regeneration contribute significantly to promoting tourism.
EIB support to the sector also contributes to the bank's objectives of promoting youth employment and boosting and improving women's employment and entrepreneurship under the recently adopted EIB group strategy for gender equality and women's economic empowerment. However, many jobs in the tourism sector are seasonal, low-skilled, part-time and low-paid, making labour standards, employment quality and training important considerations for the bank's due diligence.
Finally, at a fundamental level, EIB lending to tourism has also led to significant additionality in its operations in the sector. In financial terms, the additionality of EIB financing is associated, for example, with the extension of typical loan repayment periods, as well as with demonstration effects and the mobilisation of other funding from national promotional banks, which is particularly important in the priority cohesion regions.
Overview of tourism-related components
The EU policy context for tourism is diverse. Accordingly, and given the diversified nature of tourism, projects for the sector are eligible under various objectives of the EIB. In fact, there is already some flexibility for financing the sector within existing eligibility and public policy objective considerations. 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 loan amount does not exceed €50 million. The bank’s assessment is based on the complexity of the individual projects and most of the due diligence is delegated to the intermediary bank, as it is a typical loan type and the individual MBIL investments in the tourism sector are usually small and well below the €50 million threshold.
Urban regeneration: The bank can also finance tourism projects, which are an important component of wider urban regeneration projects within and outside the EU. Eligibility is conditional on the integration of the project proposal into urban regeneration plans for the economic, social and environmental transformation of a specific urban area or neighbourhood, as explained in the urban lending overview.
Regional development in cohesion regions: Within the EU, since the financing of the first tourism projects, EIB direct lending to the sector has contributed support to less developed regions and cohesion regions, which are currently considered EIB priority cohesion regions.
Details of the programme
The European Investment Bank is the lending arm of the European Union. The EIB offers loans, guarantees, equity investments and advisory services and operates both in the EU and around the world. About 90% of their 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.
As tourism investments have a strong private sector focus and are explicitly mentioned in the Invest-EU regulations, they are suitable for financing by EIB with use of the Invest-EU guarantee instrument. The guarantee allows the EIB to finance tourism projects that are higher risk, for example through risk sharing with promotional banks, lending to lower-rated companies and private sector financing of services.
Example (s) of supported projects
Project Title: FONDS TOURISME OCCITANIE
Description: The project will improve access to finance at favourable conditions for SMEs, public entities and public authorities in the tourism sector in the Occitanie Region. It aims to strengthen the competitiveness of SMEs and upgrade obsolete infrastructure and facilities, boost innovation and improve tourists’ experience. The investments made by the fund may contribute to generating environmental benefits; some of the investments may include energy efficiency refurbishments of existing public and private buildings. The project focuses on two service sectors: accommodation and food service activities & arts, entertainment and recreation.
EU contribution: €66,000,000
Level of EU funding: % N/A
Link to project: FONDS TOURISME OCCITANIE
Project Title: OHT TOURISM LOAN FOR SMES
Description: The project concerns a loan dedicated to small and medium-sized investments carried out in the tourism sector by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Austria. It will improve competitiveness and allow access to finance at favourable conditions.
EU contribution: €60,000,000
Level of EU funding: % N/A
Link to project: OHT TOURISM LOAN FOR SMES
Project Title: GAA INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAMME
Description: Investment loan in Ireland to co-finance infrastructure improvements of the Gaelic Athletic Association, which includes conference facility renovation and expansion, museum upgrade and the development of a new hotel facility set within an urban area in need of social and economic regeneration.
EU contribution: €35,000,000
Level of EU funding: % N/A
Link to project: GAA INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAMME