Recently a high-level conference on tourism was held at the European Parliament. Growth and employment are main priorities for the EU and tourism is a vital sector as it not only already accounts for 10% of GDP and jobs in Europe, but also generates growth in many key sectors such as agriculture and food, construction, cultural and creative industries, shipbuilding, retail, transport, and textiles.
It is expected that 5 million new jobs related to tourism will be created in the Union in the next ten years with 20% of those jobs going to young people under 25. Thus tourism is a major component in the fight against youth unemployment.
The number of international tourists is set to double over the next twelve years and Europe’s unique cultures, landscape and nature have always been huge assets that have attracted large numbers of tourists but Europe cannot take its tourist preeminence for granted; until the end of the XXth century, Europe accounted for half of the world’s tourists but that figure has dropped to 42% and is expected to dwindle to 30% in the next 12 years.
That is why many of the top speakers at the conference hailed the EU -China Tourism Year (ECTY) as a major opportunity for growth in Europe. This initiative by the European Commission working closely with the European Tourism Commission will improve travel and tourist experiences, promote lesser-known destinations, provide opportunities to increase economic cooperation and create an incentive to make quick progress on EU-China visa facilitation and air connectivity.
The ECTY website is designed as a toolkit to provide knowledge and share information; it is specifically designed to help EU tourism businesses, authorities and all other stakeholders establish successful commercial and cultural exchanges between the EU and China. With the Chinese market only representing 2% of total international arrivals in the EU, an initiative such as the ECTY is essential to help boost these numbers and such tools as its Ready for China resource with, for instance, its market reports, practical tips on doing business with China, promotional materials and legal information will help every segment of the travel industry to attract and welcome Chinese travelers.