The EU is the world’s most visited region: in 2019, around 37 % of all international tourist arrivals had the EU as their destination. However, the EU’s support for tourism needs a fresh strategic orientation, according to a special report published today by the European Court of Auditors., The auditors found that tourism-related projects funded under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) provided mixed results: some projects were sustainable and had contributed to fostering tourism activity in the region; others had had only a limited impact. In several cases, poor planning and project selection procedures had led to projects being reduced in scope, running over budget, and being delayed.
Tourism is a key economic sector in the EU: in 2019, it accounted for 9.9 % of the EU’s gross domestic product, and 11.6 % of all EU jobs. Since 2015, up to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Commission has revised the EU’s tourism priorities in the context of broader policy strategies, but it has not translated these priorities into a substantive action plan to support their implementation. As a reaction to the dramatic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the EU’s tourism sector, the Commission put forward measures and proposals to mitigate the impact of this crisis on the EU’s tourism industry and initiated action aimed at setting a tourism agenda for 2030.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the EU’s tourism sector: tourism flows and tourism revenue fell sharply”, said Pietro Russo, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “But this immediate shock is not the only challenge facing the EU’s tourism sector. It needs to face up to other, more long-term challenges related to its green and digital transformation, its competitiveness, its sustainability, and its resilience.”