Despite the economic crisis, Europe remains one of the favourite destinations. International tourist arrivals in Europe grew by 5 % during the first half of 2013, with best results recorded in Central and Eastern Europe (+ 9 %) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+ 6 %)1.
During the first six months of the year,Spain was still the most popular destination, followed by Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Greece and the UK, but eastern countries such as Lithuania, Slovakia and Latvia also recorded substantial growth.
Additionally, tens of thousands of jobs are currently available in the tourism sector across Europe, which could provide some relief to the more than 26 million Europeans currently out of work. Jobs in the tourism sector are especially attractive for the young workforce, which faces a 23.5 % unemployment rate (reaching a stunning 50 % unemployment rate in some areas). Although jobs exist in the tourism sector, often it is difficult to match potential employers with qualified workers across Europe. In order to foster employment and mobility in the tourism sector, the European Commission has put in place EURES, the first pan-European job portal which currently has many openings in the tourism sector. The portal will soon allow searching for more tourism-specific skills.
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: “Today we celebrate the World Tourism Day. On that occasion, I am very pleased to have good figures to report for the first part of this year’s tourism season – especially because they come at the time when most EU Member countries struggle with high unemployment and economic difficulties. Tourism has always been very high on my agenda, as it employs nearly 20 million people and has links to other key sectors, such as culture, food, fashion, construction and transport. We should continue to find ways to make Europe’s tourism sector flourish. Our visa simplification initiative, which aims to attract more tourist from the emerging economies, is a good example of how we can work together to remove policy and administrative barriers to boost economic growth.”