The European Union (EU) vowed to further promote its tourism strategy on Wednesday, as the world’s first destination is faced with competition from other emerging destinations and may constantly lose its share of global tourists.
The EU hosted to more than half the world’s tourists in 1990s but the figure dropped to 42 per cent and is set to fall further to 30 per cent by 2030, Xinhua quoted the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani as saying.
EU data showed that tourism industry accounted for some 10 per cent of the EU’s gross domestic product (GDP).
For the EU, the labor-intensive tourism industry is expected to help address its almost double-digit jobless rate. According to the World Tourism and Travel Council, more than 5 million new jobs linked to tourism may be created in the EU over the next 10 years while 20 per cent of these jobs go to young people under age 25.
Tourism hence represents a main avenue to combat youth unemployment, especially in several southern regions where one out of two youths was unemployed, the president noted.
Tajani pledged to develop a strategy to prepare the bloc for competition from emerging rivals and challenges posted by a digital era in which new market players, such as Google, Airbnb and Uber, on course to shape tourism industry.
The EU as well pinned its hope on Asia to inject momentum in tourism. Data quoted by Tajani showed that the number of international tourists was set to double, from 1.1 billion to more than 2 billion, between now and 2030, while half of these tourists will come from Asia.
“A Chinese tourist visited 4 or 5 EU member states on average,” he said.
“The traveler first chooses the continent to go, so the competitors to be beaten are called America, Asia, Caribbean or Pacific.”
The year of 2018 marks the year of EU-China tourism, which would be launched in Venice on January 19. Tajani said that the EU needed good chefs, digital experts, cultural mediators and professional waiters for Chinese visitors.
As the world’s leading tourism market, 135 million Chinese visitors traveled abroad in 2016 and spent $261 billion experiencing tourist destinations. It is estimated, in the coming five years, China’s outbound visitors will reach 700 million providing even greater opportunities for shared development and prosperity, according to China’s Ambassador to the EU, Yang Yanyi.
Echoing Tajani, Yang said tourism is an enormous force for good in the world and plays a crucial role in fostering bonds of friendship between peoples.
“In China we believe that he or she who excels reads as many as ten thousand books and travels as far as ten thousand miles,” Yang told the audience.
“In its drive to achieve creative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, China has made tourism a strategic pillar and a major driver of economic transformation and upgrading,” the Ambassador said.
The China-EU Tourism Year promises to maximise the full potential of one of the most important relationships in the world, not only from a tourism perspective, but across the board, economically, socially and academically, Yang added.