EU tourism is not going well Bloc slammed for clumsy management by its own court

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The global tourism sector has been hit hard by travel restrictions introduced by governments in response to Covid. But a top court has argued that the problems with the EU’s tourism sector precede the pandemic and has been helped as well as they could have been by the EU Commission.

The European Court of Auditors recently published a special report on the bloc’s support of the industry between 2014-2020.

Over these six years, there were no dedicated EU budgets for tourism.

The Court said that some of the biggest challenges facing EU tourism over this period were its “green and digital transformation, its competitiveness, its sustainability and its resilience”.

On these, it suggested the Commission has offered much talk but has done less in the way of action.

It said: “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.”

It added that where plans have been implemented, some were “partially effective”, if not “sustainable”, whereas others only had “limited impacts”.

This, in part, was due to shortcomings in initial project planning as well as delays and cost overruns, according to the Court.

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Italian magazine L’agenzia di Viaggi summed up the bloc’s “clumsy management” in a recent report, noting that “EU tourism is not going well”.

The Court said the EU Commission was right to put forward measures for mitigating the impact of Covid and Government-imposed lockdowns on the industry.

But it highlighted that this alone did not go far enough.

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Court member Pietro Russo, quoted in L’agenzia di Viaggi, said Covid “is not the only challenge facing the sector”.

The report stressed that, given the size of the tourism industry, the requirement for change in its overall management was no small matter.

The Court stressed: “Tourism is a key economic sector in the European Union.

“In 2019, it accounted for 9.9 percent of gross domestic product and 11.6 percent of all jobs in the EU.”

As such, it urged for creation of a “new strategy for the EU tourism ecosystem”.

The Court said this should “explicitly aim at supporting investments that contribute to a more sustainable form of tourism”.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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