Impressive tourism recovery in Europe


European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani has welcomed recent data on the impressive recovery of Europe’s tourism industry as a sign of Europe’s overall economic recovery.

Tajani was speaking at the European Tourism Forum in Malta on November 19, 2010.

The theme of the forum, “Strengthening Europe’s Role as the Leading Tourism Destination,” reflects the same optimism, a European Commission media statement said.

To maintain growth, the development of sustainable, responsible, and high-quality tourism must be encouraged across Europe. Exciting new opportunities must be seized if Europe is to keep its position as the world’s leading tourist destination, the statement said.

“Europe is the world’s leading tourist destination, and we must keep it this way,” Tajani said.

“New emerging markets, such as Brazil, Russia, Indi,a and China can offer an opportunity for Europe to maintain its growth rate, as the tourism industry can play a role in alleviating the effects of the crisis. Today, we are discussing a plan to successfully implement Europe’s tourism strategy. It is a clear roadmap for developing key actions such as the European Tourism Observatory, the Platform on Tourism and ICT, and the European Quality Brand.”

Tourism is estimated to generate more than five percent of the EU’s GDP and provide jobs for about 10 million people.

To continue its growth, Europe’s tourism industry must look to the promising emerging markets of the BRIC countries, with China as a prominent example, the statement said.

Although in absolute terms North America is still by far the largest market in terms of incoming tourists to Europe, followed by Japan and Russia, China has the greatest potential, with a population of just more than 1.3 billion and a growth rate of tourism expenditure concerning outbound tourism of 21 percent (UNWTO 2009).

“To seize the opportunities of new markets and strengthen its leading position, Europe as a destination must prove that it can combine high quality with sustainability,” the media statement said.

The latest figures from EU statistics office Eurostat regarding international arrivals in 2010 indicate that the recovery of the tourism sector is underway, despite having faced problems such as the eruption of the Icelandic volcano.

A comparison of the first six months of 2009 and 2010 demonstrate an increase in arrivals of 9 percent from North America, 8 percent from Japan, 18 percent from the Russian Federation, 19 percent from China, and an impressive 46 percent from Brazil.

Occupancy rates in Europe are up 5.4 percent in the third quarter of 2010 and industry figures have improved in every sub-region.

Among the topics discussed at this year’s European Tourism Forum on November 18 and 19 was the added value of a “Brand Europe” to complement regional and national promotional activities, strengthen Europe’s image abroa,d and encourage cooperation between EU member states, such as “cultural routes” in the field of tourism.

The statement said that a ministerial debate focused on how to best implement the set of actions proposed by the Commission in its Communication of June 30, 2010 on “Europe, the World’s No. 1 Tourist Destination” in four priority areas:

– Stimulating competitiveness in the European tourism sector;

– Promoting the development of sustainable, responsible, and high-quality tourism;

– Consolidating the image of Europe as home to sustainable and high-quality destinations; and

– Maximizing the potential of EU policies and financial instruments for the development of tourism.

The achievement of these objectives depends on the commitment of all stakeholders and on their capacity to work together at different levels, the statement said.