|Author (Person)||Coss, Simon|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.9, No.28, 24.7.03, p14|
By Simon Coss
EUROPE'S tourism sector has managed to shake off a much-publicized global industry slump and is doing surprisingly well at the moment, EU travel analysts say.
According to tourism experts at the European Commission, the holiday sector in Europe has emerged surprisingly unscathed from the combined fallout of the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US, the war in Iraq and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) health crisis, which have rocked the industry elsewhere in the world.
"Overall we really haven't noticed that these events have had a lasting effect on tourism in the EU," a senior Commission analyst told European Voice.
"Indeed, you could say that SARS and Iraq may even have had a bit of a positive effect as some European citizens have decided to spend their holidays in the EU instead of travelling further afield," he added.
Experts say that one of the main reasons the EU tourism sector is holding up so well is that the vast majority of people who holiday in Europe come from the same continent.
"Exact figures are hard to come by but I think it is safe to say that 80-85% of tourists in Europe come from the European Union," explained the tourism expert.
The Commission argues that the biggest problem facing Europe's tourism sector today has nothing to do with international crises but is home grown.
"We have seen that the difficult economic situation in several member states and especially Germany has had an effect on tourist numbers," the official explained.
"When people are unsure about their economic futures they often spend less money on travel and obviously this affects the industry," he added.
But analysts say that these kinds of problems, while worrying for Europe's tourism sector, are not on the same scale as the woes being faced by competitors in other parts of the world.
In central and eastern Europe, many tour operators have actually decided to use the anxiety generated by the fear of terror attacks, disease and war as a positive selling point.
The Central European Countries Travel Association (CECTA), which represents tour operators in many of the countries set to become EU member sates next year, is calling on its members to start promoting central and eastern Europe as the ultimate peril-free holiday destination, by using the slogan "Visit Central Europe - A Safe Haven".
"There is always, even in the worst of times, a silver lining to be found. And what is our silver lining? That central Europe is still the safest of havens," CECTA argued in its June newsletter.
In the EU's existing 15 member countries alone tourism accounts for 5% of total employment and 30% of external trade in services.
According to the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization, three of the top five global tourist destinations in 2002 were in the EU, with France yet again bagging the coveted number-one slot.
The European tourism industry has bucked the global trend and is doing well despite the Iraq crisis, the SARS health crisis and the 11 September terrorist attacks.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry, Health|