As the third largest socio-economic activity in the EU, tourism is important for growth and employment. Despite the depth of the economic crisis, the tourist industry in the EU has proved resilient with numbers of tourist trips remaining high. However, long-term trends suggest Europe is losing position in the global marketplace, with new destinations gaining ever growing market share.
The Lisbon Treaty provides for faster and easier decision-making on EU measures in the field of tourism, allowing decisions to be taken through the ordinary legislative procedure, even though it has not substantially increased the scope of EU powers in the area.
Drawing on the new Treaty provisions, the European Commission has prepared a new policy framework, whose main objective is to make European tourism more competitive, modern, sustainable and responsible.
The strategy, entitled “Europe, the world’s No 1 destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe”, was welcomed by the European Parliament, which nonetheless underlined the need to better coordinate tourism-related issues within the Commission and to clearly signpost financial support for tourism-related projects. The Parliament has also recently underscored the importance of tourism-related activities in different policy fields such as in rural, maritime and coastal areas.