Tourism in Europe Has Notably Improved but Still Faces Significant Challenges, Survey Shows

The tourism sector in European countries has significantly improved following the devastating situation caused by the spread of the Coronavirus and the restrictions imposed to halt its further spread.

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A recent research provided by Social Europe has revealed that despite the fact that the tourism industry continues to contribute to growth and employment, southern Europe’s reliance on tourism export comes with significant important pitfalls, reports.

The report emphasises the fact that in 2019 the tourism industry marked a notable increase, while tourism-related economic activities account for a total of 15 to 20 per cent of GDP in southern Europe.

In addition, a quarter of the Greek workforce and a fifth of the Portuguese are employed in undertakings that depend on the tourism sector for their revenues, directly or indirectly. In Italy and Spain about 15 per cent work in tourism-related companies.

The research provided by Social Europe shows that southern Europe’s tourism accounts after 2007 have been funded by a steady rise of inbound tourism from northern Europe and the United Kingdom.

Social Europe has estimated that despite the significant contribution that the tourism industry brings to the countries’ economies, it is not the cure for the structural problems these economies face in a currency union as in the globalised knowledge economy.

“Tourism encourages economic restructuring around low-value-added activities, characterised by low skills, precarious employment and low productivity,” the report shows.

During the time that Europe’s northern countries are shifting towards high-skilled, high-value-added manufacturing as well as high-end services, tourism-led growth leaves southern Europe in a bad equilibrium-trapped between an increasing vulnerability to exogenous shocks and a structural dependency on international tourists.

“Secondly, the two-decade expansion of the tourism sector is a global phenomenon. As such, it comes with fierce competition from developing countries, today easily reachable via inexpensive flights. Some of these countries, having comparable natural and cultural riches but lower prices and labour standards, are poised further to undermine employment conditions in the European tourism industry,” the statement reads.

The report also emphasises that high-carbon dioxide emissions in the tourism sector, as well as the damage to local natural resources brought by tourism over-exploitation, run counter to climate change migration as well as environmental protection.

The research emphasised that despite the fact that the tourism sector brings a significant contribution to the economy, the region should diversify their strategies in order to embrace the knowledge economy while upgrading its tourism offer.