European Commission – Regional impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the tourist sector

A hefty tome that attempts to describe the tourism ecosystem in Europe through a series of destination typologies, examines the impact of COVID-19 on these different typologies, takes a broader look at tourism trends (both those from pre-pandemic and those brought about by it) and considers policy initiatives that can promote sustainable tourism. 

Summary text 

An extremely comprehensive 156-page European Commission report exploring the impact of the pandemic on different regions of Europe, the policies deployed to support the tourism industry and the emerging lessons following the deployment of policy interventions.  Note that some sections are repeated in French and German as well as English meaning that the Introduction section doesn’t commence until page 42. 

The report notes that tourism is vital to the European economy, with 3 million enterprises, accounting for 11% of EU employment and 9.5% of GDP in 2019. 

It is argued that the industry must harness the impact of the pandemic to become more sustainable in the future and to fully embrace digitalisation.  By 2030, says the study, prominent pre-pandemic tourism trends will return, but that ‘digitalisation and eco-friendly tourism are expected to dominate’. 

Regions where tourism has traditionally been an important part of the economy were highly impacted by lockdowns and restrictions, with a colour-coded map deployed to help readers visualise where impacts were at their greatest.  However, some regions are said to have benefited from the pandemic, those that had previously been more off the beaten track and could take advantage of growth in domestic travel.   

Based on an analysis of policies used during the pandemic the report highlights a number of lessons: 

  • Tourism growth must be managed responsibly 
  • More must be done to support new destinations that have previously not seen large amounts of tourism 
  • A greater focus on ensuring tourism is sustainable will be crucial 
  • Investment in digitalisation will be required from the business-level to the destination-level 
  • Greater collaboration between stakeholders will be essential 

Part of the report discusses preparedness and resilience of the tourism sector and suggests that to support these aims a number of prerequisites exist: 

  • Diversity of tourism products and target groups 
  • Good governance of the destination 
  • Openness and innovation 
  • Access to funding and resources 

Many pages are devoted to ‘developing tourism typologies’ for different areas of Europe with examples of which areas fall into which typology then being presented.   

Much of the data regarding the impact of the pandemic on the sector relates to 2020 while numerous references are made to analysis presented in the ETC reports examining the sentiment of Europeans towards domestic and intra-European travel which are also available via the ETOA Insight Hub.   

The report highlights trends that will impact on tourism regardless of the pandemic: 

  • Climate change and biodiversity loss 
  • Ageing population and migration 
  • New technology 

Link to EC Report on Regional Impacts of Covid on Tourism