Digital tourism in the European Union

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Series Details September 2018
Publication Date September 2018
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Tourism is a major economic activity in the European Union, contributing about 10 % to the Union's gross domestic product and employing up to 26 million people through its direct, indirect and induced impact on the economy. While it is true that the EU is the global leader in terms of international tourist arrivals and receipts, fast-growing tourism to some other destinations is challenging this status quo.

The EU tourism sector is also facing changes brought on by the digital revolution. Many customers nowadays plan and book trips on their own through online travel agencies, search and meta-search engines, and making increasing use of mobile technology and apps. Some of them share their travel experiences through personal exchanges on social media platforms, travel blogs or commercial channels such as TripAdvisor. Most businesses serving tourists have understood the need to adapt their products to the changes in the way the market works, and consequently have launched various online and automatic services. However, some of these changes, such as the emergence of online platforms on which people propose to share temporarily with tourists what they own or what they do, have proved more difficult to adapt to.

Although the EU has only limited competence in the field of tourism, it has an impact on digital tourism through various policies related to other sectors. In particular, the digital single market strategy has had a huge impact on tourism through various legislative acts. The EU supports digital tourism further through various funds and non-legislative initiatives such as forums, conferences and webinars.

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