EC welcomes OECD report showing revival of tourism industry

International tourism arrivals have returned rapidly to steady growth, showing tourism’s resilience to the effects of the global economic and financial crisis, according to a new OECD report.

“OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2012” indicates that OECD countries were the destination of choice for 66 per cent of global arrivals in 2010 with EU countries accounting for 50.2 per cent.

In 2010, total international arrivals in all countries reached 940 million, 6.7 per cent above the 2009 figure, with most growth taking place in Asia and the Pacific.Overall, international arrivals increased by four per cent to OECD countries and 2.7 per cent to the EU.

The report notes that tourism represents a significant share of the service economy of OECD and EU members, accounting for up to a third of service exports and up to 10 per cent of GDP.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship welcomed the OECD report and its recommendations. He said: “The OECD’s figures confirm that if Europe wants to remain the world’s number one tourist destination we need to modernise and invest more in quality, new technology and skills. The tourism industry needs to cater to an aging clientele, changing lifestyles and consumer demands, explore new ways to attract more international visitors and convince more Europeans to spend their holidays in the EU. With this in mind we launched the “50 000 tourists” pilot initiative to promote travel between South America and the European Union, and a communication campaign to promote the image of Europe in selected emerging long-haul markets.”

Yves Leterme, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, said: “Tourism is directly responsible for over five per cent of employment in OECD member countries. But in many countries, tourism jobs remain vacant due to a lack of appropriately skilled workers. There is a need for governments to assume a greater leadership role in shaping the training and education agenda. A national tourism strategy, including a workforce development strategy, is necessary to fully address labour and skills shortages.”

Growing importance of emerging tourism destinations

The report underlines the growing importance of emerging tourism destinations:

  • Many of the emerging tourism destination countries are enjoying significant growth in arrivals, and outperforming OECD, EU and global averages for GDP and employment.
  • While still accounting for a relatively small proportion of global international arrivals, the potential impact of tourism on these economies is clear.
  • People from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia and South Africa represent a significant potential as sources of growth for traditional tourism destinations.

Disposable income and spending on travel and dining are directly related, as is the demand for quality, specialisation and uniqueness. While globalisation allows for greater market reach, it also increases international competition.

Three overall policy recommendations

To maintain a leading position, to adapt to innovative demands from consumers and to allow the tourism sector to grow, the report endorses three overall policy recommendations addressed to national authorities:

  • Governments should adopt an integrated whole-of-government approach to the development of tourism, better define the roles and responsibilities of tourism organisations, and encourage better industry co-ordination. Governance practice should reflect the changing business, thereby supporting stronger, greener and more inclusive tourism growth.
  • The report highlights the need for effective evaluation of policies designed to support the industry, and to demonstrate the importance of tourism, particularly in times of resource constraint, when a strong and clear evidence base is needed by policy makers.
  • In many countries, tourism jobs remain vacant due to shortages of appropriately skilled workers, and there is a need for governments to assume a greater leadership role in shaping the training and education agenda. A national tourism strategy, including a workforce development strategy, is necessary to fully address labour and skills shortages.

(Photo: inge1301/



The Sofia Globe staff

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