Tourism sector keeps growing
In the future its services need to become more personalised
Maria Koleva, Brussels
1 December, 2017
What do you think are the top three tourism investment priorities at EU Level by 2025? This question was posed to the participants at the beginning of this year’s conference in Brussels, dedicated to reflections on “The future of EU tourism”. Convened by the Commission, the event gathered about 400 representatives of the EC, public authorities at EU, national and regional level, sector associations, but also people from the tourism and travel industry as well as other relevant stakeholders. Concerning the investment priorities, the audience put on first place sustainability and energy efficiency - 69%, digitalisation and ICT - 66%, enhancing professional skills - 53%.
Access to finance under the next budget period, the tourism value chain and its implications on consumers, businesses and local communities as well as the future of tourism governance at all levels, were among the topics on the table.
The Commission is supporting the sector by putting the right framework condition in place in order to become more competitive. Elzbieta Bienkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, stressed that tourism is an important contributor to growth and jobs in Europe. The circumstances in tourism became different, but despite of negative events, especially the terrorist attacks, the forecast for European tourism are still positive, she pointed out. The sector continues to be resilient and keeps growing. She noted that now the sector contribution to EU’s GDP is around 10% and is projected to keep rising in the next decade. By 2027, tourism will provide over 13m jobs all over Europe, she asserted, adding as well that the sector is undergoing transformation, and it needs to adapt to new technologies and to changing customer expectations. She also highlighted that tourism professionals should obtain new skills, that tourism needs to be even more personalised than today, and that more public-private partnerships in tourism have to be set up.
During her intervention in the political debate, Irena Georgieva, Bulgarian Deputy Minister for Tourism, underlined that Europe is the world’s top destination and “if we want to keep it, we must deal with the challenges that sector faces - infrastructure, accommodation capacity, well qualified human recourses, administration burdens and red tape, innovation and digitalization.” Prioritising the sector, the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council, which starts on 1 January 2018, has on its agenda High level ministerial conference on tourism and economic growth - on 13 February and International forum on tourism and energy - on 23 May.