Tourism is a major economic activity in the European Union with a wide-ranging impact on economic growth, employment, and social development. It can be a powerful tool in fighting economic decline and unemployment. Nevertheless, the tourism sector faces a series of challenges. The European Commission works to address these with policies and actions.
Coronavirus response in relation to tourism
The outbreak of COVID-19 has put the EU tourism industry under unprecedented pressure and tourism companies of all sizes are facing acute liquidity problems. On 13 May 2020, the Commission adopted a comprehensive package of initiatives to allow for a coordinated framework to resume transport and tourism safely, enable Europeans to travel and enjoy the summer tourism season in safety, as well as address pressing issues for tourism operators and consumers.
The tourism package provides guidance on safety and health protocols for hospitality establishments, passenger transport and lifting of internal borders as well as recommendations on vouchers issued by package travel organisers and airlines. This comprehensive package should enable companies and public authorities to plan and prepare for de-confinement while providing reassurance to European citizens and allowing them to plan their holidays and travel in safety.
To help with the latter, the Commission launched the Re-open EU web platform on 15 June 2020. The website and mobile app provide real-time information on borders and available transport and tourism services in EU countries. It includes information on public health and safety measures, such as on physical distancing or wearing of facemasks, and is available in 24 EU languages.
Other EU support measures for the tourism industry also complement and reinforce measures taken at national level. They include liquidity support, fiscal measures, an easing of state aid rules, new guidance on passenger rights, and the application of the Package Travel Directive.
- Guidance on how to safely resume travel and reboot Europe's tourism in 2020 and beyond (PDF)
- Re-open EU: Commission launches a website to safely resume travelling and tourism in the EU
- More information on the European Commission's coronavirus response website
Overview of EU tourism policy
EU policy aims to maintain Europe's standing as a leading tourist destination while maximising the industry's contribution to growth and employment. It also promotes cooperation between EU countries, particularly through the exchange of good practice. The EU's competence in the tourism sector is one of support and coordinating the actions of member countries.
Enhancing what European tourism has to offer
The European Commission works on a number of initiatives to diversify and improve the range of tourism products and services available in areas such as sustainable tourism, accessible tourism, tourism for seniors, and low-season tourism.
Supporting tourism businesses
To maintain Europe’s position as a leading tourist destination, the quality of its services needs to be continuously improved. The European Commission is involved in initiatives that improve the mobility and skills of workers - particularly IT skills - and help tourism entrepreneurs to manage their businesses.
The Virtual Tourism Observatory
The European Commission has developed the Virtual Tourism Observatory. The Observatory is a portal that gathers information and analysis on performance and trends in the sector. It allows policy-makers and others in the industry to develop better strategies.
Promoting destination Europe
To enhance the visibility of Europe as a tourist destination and increase tourism to the EU, the Commission is implementing a wide range of communication and promotion activities. It is also taking measures to make it easier to travel to Europe.
EDEN - European destinations of excellence
EDEN is an initiative that promotes sustainable tourism. It has been updated and redesigned in 2021.
Due to the intensity of global tourism competition, the Commission works with non-EU countries and international organisations to boost tourism to Europe.
Conferences and other events
The Commission holds a number of conferences and other events for tourism stakeholders related to key issues facing the tourism industry.