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Special Report 27/2021: EU Support to tourism - Need for a fresh strategic orientation and a better funding approach

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14/12/2021

Tourism is a key economic sector in the EU. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic, and unprecedented impact on the tourism sector sharply reducing tourism flows and thus the revenues of tourism-related businesses. Beyond this immediate shock, the tourism sector is facing other, more long-term challenges related to its green and digital transformation, its competitiveness, its sustainability and its resilience.

The Commission defined its current EU’s tourism strategy back in 2010. Since 2015, and until the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission has revised tourism priorities in the context of broader policy strategies, but it did not translate these priorities into a concrete 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 initiated actions towards the definition of a tourism agenda for 2030. Our analysis of ERDF projects on tourism found mixed results: some projects were sustainable and contributed to fostering tourism activity in the region; others had only a limited impact. In several cases, shortcomings in the initial project planning and needs assessments as well as at the project selection stage resulted in reductions in the project scope, delays and cost overruns during project implementation. The Commission has put forward measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the EU’s tourism industry.

We recommend that the Commission should set out a new EU tourism strategy. It should also encourage Member States to apply selection procedures for ERDF-funded tourism investments to support this new strategic orientation.

​ECA special report pursuant to Article 287(4), second subparagraph, TFEU.