Tourism in Europe

The European Union is the number one destination for tourists in the world. Representative from a major attractive pole, the tourism is a key sector in the European economy. For instance,  more than 10% of GDP consists of tourism and employs about 9.7 million people distributed in 1.8 million firms. Thus, it is widespread throughout Europe, reinforcing for each enlargement processes.
Obviously, the tourism is not only an economic notion but also refers to a myriad of Europeans policies, such as the free movement of citizens, goods and services, consumer protection, the environment, the fight against climate change, transport and so on.
Consequently, it was not until the Lisbon’s Treaty that tourism became truly a European policy. Indeed, the treaty was simplified, making tourism a supportive action in the EU.
In 2010, Europe received about 476.5 million of tourists with receipts of 306.4 billion of dollars. Moreover, in the past 15 years, an increase of 156.6% was observed in tourism in Europe with an increase of 151.3% in receipts.

What about the current trends - which country is the most popular of all?

Looking at the data provided by Eurostat, Spain, Italy and France are the first holiday destinations for the citizens of EU27. In fact, Spain was the top destination with 13% followed by Italy and France with 9% each.
On the other hand  the high number of departures recorded in 2011 is registered among German residents with 73 million people, followed by the United Kingdom with 44 million, France with 22 millions and Netherlands with 16 millions of persons.  In fact,  these four states account for the two-third of touristic travel carried out abroad by the residents of the EU27.
Also, we point out that in those countries and especially in Spain, domestic travel exceeds the number of vacations abroad. However, in states like Luxembourg, Austria or Slovenia the situation is quite the opposite: the majority of citizens travel abroad for vacation.
Moreover, we notice other data in the year 2013 by the Flash Eurobarometer carried out at the request of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry by the TNS Political & Social network in the 28 member states of the EU, in Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Norway, Serbia, Montenegro and Israel, between 6 and 11 January 2014. This wave is a follow-up to Flash Eurobarometer no. 370, conducted in January 2013.
Among the respondents who went on holiday in 2013 for a minimum of four nights, four in ten (42%) spent their main holiday in their own country in 2013 (-5% since last year). Nearly four in ten (38%) went to another EU country for their main holiday (+54%) and roughly a fifth (19%, -2%) took a holiday in a country outside the EU.
A majority of respondents (57%, -1%) say they went on holiday in their own country in 2013, while a similar proportion also took a holiday in an EU country (54%, +9%). Over a quarter (27%, +3%) went somewhere outside the EU.
The top five holiday destinations remain the same compared to last year: Spain was still the most popular destination in 2013, being visited by 15% of respondents, up from 10% a year earlier. Next came France (11%, +3%), Italy (10%, +2%), Germany (7%, +2%) and Austria (6%, +2%).

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But, what are the barriers constituted by the economic crisis in the level of tourism on Europe?

The main reasons for going on holiday in 2013 for over four in ten respondents (44%) was a lack of financial resources – a slight decline (-2%) since the last wave. A fifth of respondents (20%, -3%) mentioned personal or private reasons for not staying at home. In 12 countries, at least 50% of the respondents who did not go on holiday in 2013 gave financial reasons as an explanation, with particularly high proportions in Greece (74%), Cyprus (69%), Bulgaria (66%) and Serbia (66%).

What is the outlook like for the forthcoming months? 

When asked whether the current economic situation effected their holiday plans for 2014, over four in ten people (44%) replied they will go on holiday this year without changing their plans, while a third (33%) will still go on holiday but will change their plans. About a tenth (11%) will not go on holiday as a result of the economic situation.

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Two countries stand out as having an especially high proportion of respondents who say they will not go on holiday as a result of the economic situation: Turkey (38%) and Greece (26%).

What are the real impacts of tourism in southern countries? What are the strategies in this area?

Some European states intend to make profit of the touristic activity in order to improve their economies. In this area, the most peculiar example is Greece. Since 2008, the state debt has progressed to 40% and the unemployment rate has ranged from 8% to 27%. Therefore, with a significant drop in consumption, the country focuses on the tourism sector expressed about 20% of GDP.
Consequently, a growth in revenues from tourism close to 21% in June 2013 has led to a remarkable recovery of the trade balance. Thus, their revenues were higher than 11 billion euros for the whole year.
Furthermore, in Spain suffering from high unemployment, the tourism sector embodies 11% of GDP and 11.4% of job creation. The month of July experiences the highest number of visitors and consequently, a sharp decline in unemployment.
Another remarkable case is Portugal. Although this country was less affected by the recession, it also gained revenues of 9-10% of GDP from the development of tourism. The state secretary for tourism stated, “this is the sector which contributes the most to ending the crisis”. According to the government, unemployment has declined in the accommodation sector, restoration and trade.
Therefore, even though household consumption is declining in most European countries, southern destinations intend to attract the most tourists possible in order to generate economic activity. However, it is important to note that it can be triggered due to countries like Tunisia, which were pushed into a price spiral and they have become dependent on tourism. A balance should therefore be reached between the external attraction and the internal activity. Tourism should merely be a part of the whole economic activity of a country, not the only factor stimulating it. 

Edited by: Réka Blazsek 
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