EU policy aims to maintain Europe's standing as a leading destination while maximising the industry's contribution to growth and employment and promoting cooperation between EU countries, particularly through the exchange of good practices. The EU's competence in tourism is one of support and coordination to supplement the actions of member countries.
Challenges for the European tourism industry
The main challenges are
- security and safety - environmental, political, and social security; safety of food and accommodation; and socio-cultural sustainability threats
- economic competitiveness - seasonality, regulatory and administrative burdens, tourism-related taxation, difficulty of finding and keeping skilled staff
- technological – keeping up to date with IT developments caused by the globalisation of information and advances in technology (IT tools for booking holidays, social media providing advice on tourism services, etc.)
- markets and competition - growing demand for customised experiences, new products, growing competition from other EU destinations.
Europe, the world's No. 1 tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe
In June 2010, the European Commission adopted the Communication, ‘Europe, the world's No. 1 tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe’. This communication set out a new strategy and action plan for EU tourism.
Four priorities for action were identified:
- To stimulate competitiveness in the European tourism sector
- To promote the development of sustainable, responsible, and high-quality tourism
- To consolidate Europe's image as a collection of sustainable, high-quality destinations
- To maximise the potential of EU financial policies for developing tourism.
A regularly updated implementation rolling plan has been developed that outlines the major initiatives to be implemented as part of the strategy, in collaboration with public authorities, tourism associations and other public/private tourism stakeholders.
To date, the Commission has successfully implemented the majority of the actions set out in the Communication, focusing on the following priorities:
- increasing tourism demand, from within the EU and beyond
- improving the range of tourism products and services on offer
- enhancing tourism quality, sustainability, accessibility, skills, and ICT use
- enhancing the socio-economic knowledge base of the sector
- promoting Europe as a unique destination
- mainstreaming tourism in other EU policies.
Public consultations on tourism policy
In December 2013, the Commission launched two public consultations on the tourism industry.