Europe, boosted by Spain, Portugal and Greece, records best tourist season in years

in News · 03-10-2013 11:06:00 · 0 Comments
Europe, boosted by Spain, Portugal and Greece, records best tourist season in years

Despite the economic crisis, Europe remains a favourite destination, the European Commission said in a recent statement.

International tourist arrivals in Europe grew by five percent during the first half of 2013, with best results recorded in Central and Eastern Europe (up nine percent) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (up six percent).
During the first six months of the year, Spain was still the most popular destination, followed by Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Greece and the UK, but eastern countries such as Lithuania, Slovakia and Latvia also recorded substantial growth.
Additionally, tens of thousands of jobs are currently available in the tourism sector across Europe, which could provide some relief to the more than 26 million Europeans currently out of work.
In order to foster employment and mobility in the tourism sector, the European Commission has put in place EURES, the first pan-European job portal which currently has many openings in the tourism sector. The portal will soon allow interested parties to search for more tourism-specific skills.
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said upon celebrating World Tourism Day that he was very pleased to have good figures to report for the first part of this year’s tourism season, “especially because they come at the time when most EU Member countries struggle with high unemployment and economic difficulties.”
He explained that tourism has always been very high on his agenda, as it employs nearly 20 million people and has links to other key sectors, such as culture, food, fashion, construction and transport.

“We should continue to find ways to make Europe’s tourism sector flourish. Our visa simplification initiative, which aims to attract more tourists from the emerging economies, is a good example of how we can work together to remove policy and administrative barriers to boost economic growth”, he concluded.

Among the Mediterranean countries, Spain led the way in 2013. Portugal’s only neighbours had 34 million tourists between January and July, and a four percent rise in international arrivals compared to last year.

Tourism in Greece has grown by 9.2 percent, hosting around seven million tourists in seven months.
Malta (+10 percent) and Portugal (+8 percent) also reported healthy growth.
In Northern Europe results were also good but more modest (+3 percent), except for the United Kingdom, which recorded a four percent increase in arrivals following last year’s 2012 London Summer Olympics.
France benefited from an increase in international visitors during the summer season, which compensated for a decrease in the number of local tourists.
Star performers in Central and Eastern Europe were Slovakia (+19 percent), Latvia (+11 percent) and Lithuania (+9 percent). Less satisfactory figures come from Cyprus, where arrivals of tourists decreased by 5.8 percent for the period January-July 2013.
The EU has also revealed its intention to simplify visas in order to attract even more tourists.
The European Commission said it is preparing a review of the Visa Code before the end of this year.
Its aim is to simplify and improve the visa procedures, in particular for tourists coming from emerging economies such as China and Russia, while ensuring an adequate level of security in the EU.
In the last four years, the number of Russian and Chinese visitors to the EU has doubled and flows from India are also increasing rapidly.
Yet many potential travellers from countries outside of the EU face visa hurdles when they decide to vacation in Europe. The new initiative aims to eliminate the cumbersome visa processing and attract even more foreign tourists to Europe’s mountains, cities and coastlines.


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