The European Governments' commitments and actions in the framework of the tourism recovery

4 min reading time

Published on 21/03/22 - Updated on 21/03/22

tourisme et politique

The tourism sector, which has been affected for two years by the health crisis, is once again under pressure due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Many actors, both in the industry and in politics, are calling for a resumption of tourism under the best possible conditions despite the current situation. A recovery that should take place both nationally and globally because of the important role of tourism, both in economic and social terms.

Atout France shares the figures and findings as of February 2022 in its latest economic report. The year 2021 has marked a slight recovery in tourism activity in France compared to the year 2020, which was more than difficult. Over the last year as a whole, "the volume of overnight stays by residents has almost returned to the level of 2019". International customers are also making their return to France. Revenue from this clientele is down by only 17.3% in January 2022 compared to the same period in 2019. Revenues for the whole of 2021 still lag behind those of 2019 but show a significant rebound compared to 2020, rising from 28.5 billion to 35 billion euros.

And the first months of 2022 seem to confirm this upward trend. This upward trend also concerns the private rental sector, with rates even higher than in 2019 for most types of destination. While the hotel operator has still not returned to its pre-crisis levels despite the reopening of the entire French hotel fleet. This can be partly explained by the sluggish recovery of business tourism and a still notable lack of long-haul tourism. The war in Ukraine does not have a direct impact on French tourism as Russian customers represent only 1.2% of international revenue in 2019. However, this conflict is having a major impact on the price of oil, thus impacting the spending power of domestic and international travellers.

To prepare for this recovery, the European tourism ministers, including Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, met in Dijon on 17 and 18 March. This major conference was held within the framework of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Alongside Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne were Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), Julia Simpson, President of the World Travel & Tourism Council. In addition, there were 16 other tourism ministers and ambassadors.

It is a great moment to be able to work together on this tourism recovery. [...] For a long time, European countries were racing to see who would receive the most international tourists. We were not outdone, the French, we were on the podium, number one. But I believe that the health crisis was a revelation and an accelerator. 

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister Delegate for Tourism

Three themes were addressed during these two days: European tourism, sustainable tourism and the impact of the war in Ukraine. A strong observation emerged from these numerous exchanges: although the tourism sector employs 23 million people on a European scale, nearly 2 million jobs are still to be filled. On the second subject, the objective is clear: "to make Europe the world's leading destination in terms of sustainable tourism". To achieve this, the representatives of each country felt that it was of the utmost importance to cooperate on a European scale in order to achieve this ambitious goal. As for the situation in Ukraine, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne concedes that this "may lead to a perception of less safe destinations for all European destinations" and that it is therefore their duty to reassure customers outside the European Union. The ambition is to demonstrate that "Europe is a safe destination in all respects, including in terms of health safety".

During the conference, Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary, warned against the "triple threat" of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency and the war in Europe. He also stressed that "tourism has an active role to play in reaffirming our common values and promoting peace", calling for cooperation and solidarity between all EU member states. He also said that the time had come for the tourism sector to strengthen its commitment to climate action. In particular, UNWTO welcomed the gradual lifting and easing of travel restrictions introduced in response to the pandemic.

At the national level and in the context of the presidential elections, the National Association of Elected Officials of Tourist Territories (ANETT) is proposing a "Manifesto for Tourism" aimed at giving a sustainable boost to tourism. As a reminder, France is the world's leading tourist destination with 90 million tourists a year, apart from Covid-19. The tourism sector represents 8% of GDP and more than 2 million jobs. This Manifesto consists of 10 major proposals addressed to the candidates for the 2022 presidential election:

  1. Enhance the value of the Classified Tourism Resorts, Poles of Excellence
  2. Adapt the quality of the accommodation offer
  3. Invest to reinforce the attractiveness 
  4. Enhance the value of tourism professions 
  5. Living in Tourist Territories in a sustainable manner 
  6. Develop Innovation
  7. Encourage tourism for all 
  8. Relaunching Thermalism
  9. Reinforcing the safety of tourists
  10. Improve and simplify the Territorial Organisation of Tourism

Atout France

Atout France

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