Tourism growth in many European countries is threatened by poor infrastructure quality, capacity and long-term planning, according to a report published today by the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The report ‘European Travel & Tourism: Where are the greatest current and future investment needs,’ published at the WTTC Global Summit in Madrid, reveals that, despite €2.1 trillion of forecast investment in the next decade, the growth of the sector in many countries is threatened by poor existing infrastructure quality or capacity or inadequate future investment.
Of the 41 European countries analysed in the report, Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom are the best placed over the next decade.
The tourism sector makes a substantial contribution to European economies.
In 2014, including its direct, indirect, and induced impacts, tourism supported 33.5 million jobs and made nearly €1.6 trillion in contribution to gross domestic product, or 9.3 per cent of total European GDP.
In addition, tourism is a key to recovery for countries hit hardest by recession and the Eurozone crisis, including Greece, Spain, and Portugal.
Tourism is forecast to grow as fast, if not faster, than the economy overall in every major European region, putting pressure on infrastructure capabilities and increasing the need for additional infrastructure investment.
This report shows that several countries could fail to achieve baseline forecasts for tourism GDP and jobs, and fall behind in global competitiveness terms, due to limited infrastructure and underinvestment relative to tourism demand.
The 41 European countries studied in this report are expected to invest €2.1 trillion in tourism between 2015 and 2025, which is five per cent of all forecasted European investment over the period.
The WTTC report uses three categories to identify country typologies, ranging from those that are at risk of losing tourism infrastructure competitiveness over the next decade, to those that are well-placed to benefit from forecasted investment spend between 2015 and 2025:
WTTC president David Scowsill said: “Tourism is one of Europe’s great sectors – it creates wealth and supports jobs and is a key to recovery for those countries hardest hit by recession and the Eurozone crisis.
“Our sectors is forecast to add five million jobs and $500 billion in GDP contributions over the next ten years with the sector due to grow as fast or faster than every European economy.
“However, the potential of our sector to create jobs, financial security and economic wealth can only be met with sufficient and effective investment to support this demand.
“Our research paints a picture of a diverse continent with some countries much better placed than others to capitalize on forecasted demand.
“This points to a need for smart investment, greater collaboration between public and private bodies, and creative funding options.
“Breaking down barriers to infrastructure development through the right business, political and regulatory frameworks will help to ensure that tourism in Europe maintains a strong and competitive position.”