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Doc. 9461

9 May 2002

Tapping Europe’s tourism potential


Committee on Economic Affairs and Development

Rapporteur: Ms Vlasta Stepova, Czech Republic, Socialist Group


Europe has traditionally been the world’s leading tourism destination and has benefited from the income, jobs and greater international understanding that it brings. However, the report argues, unless Europe works hard to defend and improve the situation, this position may well weaken in the face of growing competition from other parts of the world. Tourism development policies therefore merit greater political attention at European and national level.

The report commends the work of the World Tourism Organisation, and in particular its more recent Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and its Tourism Satellite Account. It furthermore calls on the member states of the Council of Europe to ensure speedy incorporation of these instruments into national tourism strategies.

In recognition of the risks posed to the environment and the cultural heritage by the spread of mass tourism, the Assembly supports balanced and quality-oriented tourism development policies. This includes a legal and fiscal framework favouring the conservation of sites and monuments, encouraging co-operation among regions and the creation of private-public partnerships for quality tourism.

Recognising that the countries of central and eastern Europe face special difficulties in developing their tourism sector, the Assembly asks them to devote additional resources to tourism-related development and calls for greater assistance from international financial organisations. Finally, it asks all Council of Europe member states to do everything in their power to protect tourists against acts of violence and terrorism.

I. Draft resolution

1.       Modern tourism has become an inseparable feature of our lives and a major economic activity. It plays an important role in bringing peoples, countries and regions closer together. In Europe – the world’s leading tourism area – it contributes significantly to the European unification process. Against the background of indications that Europe may be losing pace in ever stiffening international competition, tourism development policies should receive greater political attention at European and national level.

2.       The Parliamentary Assembly commends the work of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), the leading international body in the field of travel and tourism. It in particular welcomes the WTO’s most recent achievements in the form of its Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and its Tourism Satellite Account. It calls on the member states of the Council of Europe to ensure speedy incorporation of these instruments into national tourism strategies. It also encourages member states of the Council of Europe not yet members of the World Tourism Organisation to consider joining that organisation at their earliest convenience.

3.        With unemployment continuing to be of prime concern to European governments, tourism is a job provider of great importance, especially for the more vulnerable groups in society including women, the young and the less skilled. Tourism’s role as a catalyst on the labour market is expected to grow still further due to globalisation and structural changes in national economies increasingly geared to services. Heeding policy advice by the European Union and the OECD in support of both tourism and employment, Council of Europe member states should pay particular attention to the training of employees in tourism-related small and medium-sized enterprises, the creation of innovative partnerships between public and private actors in tourism, and the continued lowering of barriers to the free movement of people so as to cope with seasonal and conjectural fluctuations in the demand for jobs in the tourism sector across Europe.

4.        The Council of Europe member states need to harmonise methods for the collection and analysis of tourism statistics, in order to appreciate better the value-added by the tourism sector in national economies, to allow more accurate international comparisons and to detect emerging trends earlier. The Assembly believes that a rapid implementation of the World Tourism Organisation’s Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) at national level is essential for developing tourism and the related activities more coherently.

5.        Since mass tourism may irreversibly damage the natural and cultural environment, policies for balanced, quality-oriented tourism are needed, emphasising preventive planning, the rehabilitation of sites and monuments, and the diversification of tourism offers. The Assembly with this in mind invites the member states of the Council of Europe:

i.       to enhance awareness as much as possible in their countries of the World Tourism Organisation’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism;

ii.       to contribute to the 2002 International Year of Ecotourism, notably by ensuring that national tourism authorities, together with environmental agencies and other stakeholders, define and strengthen national strategies and programmes for action in favour of sustainable development and ecotourism;

iii.       to speed up the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development adopted in 2000, and to ensure the early signature, ratification and implementation of the European Landscape Convention;

iv.       to rapidly conclude negotiations for a European Outline Convention on Mountain Regions;

v.       to support regional co-operation initiatives and the linking of private and public resources through partnerships for quality tourism;

vi.       to promote environmental quality certification schemes (eco-labels) for tourist products and services.

6.       Cultural tourism - with historical towns, events travelling and ‘culture-art-religion’ combination - is gaining ground in Europe. Considering that tourism can serve effectively to preserve and restore our continent’s cultural heritage, and contributes to European unification, the co-ordination of cultural and tourism policies should be a priority for pan-European co-operation. The Assembly therefore calls on the member states of the Council of Europe:

i. to take advantage of the financing opportunities offered by the Council of Europe Development Bank for the conservation and rehabilitation of their historical heritage, thereby strengthening the resource basis for tourism;

ii. to foster the development of local initiatives aimed at conserving the national heritage through tourism projects, as a follow-up to the Council of Europe’s Campaign ‘Europe, a Common Heritage’;

iii. to make more active use of tax incentives, grants and other financial instruments to encourage private investment in national heritage and tourism projects.

7.       Recognising that countries of central and eastern Europe face special difficulties in developing their tourism sector, the Assembly

i. encourages these countries to invest more in tourism-related regional development, training, communication policies, tax incentives and the creation of public-private partnerships in the tourism sector;

ii.       urges any Council of Europe member states that still charge higher prices for foreigners than for their own citizens for services in the tourism sector, such as hotel rooms or visits to cultural events and monuments, to abandon this discriminatory practice as soon as possible;

iii.       calls for greater assistance from the European Union and its European Investment Bank, the Council of Europe Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank and others for this purpose.


8.        Finally, the Assembly asks all member states to take every precaution to protect tourists against acts of terrorism, primarily for humanitarian reasons but also in recognition that tourists will avoid regions where violence occurs.

II. Explanatory Memorandum by the Rapporteur




      Tourism as a worldwide socio-economic phenomenon

Political implications of modern tourism






1. In April, 2000, several members of the Assembly introduced a Motion for a Resolution on ‘The Need for Stronger Political Support in Favour of Tapping Europe’s Tourism Potential’ (Doc. 8720), which stressed the great importance of tourism for the socio-economic development of Council of Europe member states. It is worth recalling in this context that in 1998 the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 1148 (1998) on the ‘Need to Accelerate the Development of Tourism in Central and Eastern Europe’ that examined the specific needs and challenges of the countries of central and eastern Europe in realising their tourism potential. In a sense, the present report adds to this latter Resolution by pointing to the important aspects of tourism development in a wider European context.

2. As a basis for the elaboration of the report, numerous international and national findings have been used emanating from the World Tourism Organisation, henceforth referred to as the WTO (not to be confused with the World Trade Organisation), the Council of Europe, the European Union, the WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council), the OECD, UN Specialised Agencies, etc. The proceedings of various conferences1 on tourism that the Rapporteur has attended have provided most valuable information as regards modern trends, problems and challenges in the tourism sector. The report seeks to give an overview of recent developments in tourism and highlights the need for stronger political and economic support for tourism in Europe.


Tourism as a worldwide socio-economic phenomenon

3. The history of tourism is not the same as the history of travelling. The first forms of tourism in the 18th and 19th century were expressions of the abundant leisure time of the privileged few in society. They gradually gave way to mass, ‘democratic’ tourism in the 20th century. Coastal regions, spas and health resorts as predecessors of today’s tourist destinations played an important role in creating new habits, and in involving ever wider layers of the population in travelling. However, it was only after World War II, and particularly as from the 1950s, that tourism started to offer unprecedented incentives for travel, through vast tourist infrastructures, an accompanying social organisation, marketing and the offering of an ever wider range of destinations.

4. As tourism expands more and more spatially, the networks of tourist welcome facilities now cover all continents, and the overcoming of distance has become much less of a problem thanks to the progress of modern transport. In recent decades, tourism is rightfully considered a truly worldwide phenomenon, with multiple and deep implications in all aspects of life. In many countries travel is now taken for granted as part of people’s lifestyles and has become an important determinant of social status. Tourism today plays a most important role in bringing peoples, countries and regions closer together, dismantling prejudices and enhancing understanding about others.

5. Over the past few decades, the boom of travelling has turned tourism into one of the world’s largest and most rapidly growing industries. WTO data of 2001 show 699 million foreign tourist arrivals worldwide, and about $476 billion in foreign currency revenues from tourism in 2000. This indicates that world tourism grew by 7.4% in 2000, or at almost double the rate of 1999. It is estimated that tourism – a major provider of services - generates some 5 % of world GDP (but up to 84% of GDP in certain countries) and employs about 115 million people, or about 4% of the world’s total work force. Jobs in tourism are created 1.5 times faster than in any other sector of economy and international tourism receipts are growing 1.5 times faster than world GDP. Furthermore, tourism employs large numbers of women, young people, low skilled personnel and in some cases the representatives of minorities – in other words, those who are among the hardest hit by unemployment in most countries.

6. World tourism is very uneven over regions, as the majority of tourists travel to or within Europe. In 1999 the repartition among main areas was as follows: Europe 58.2 %, Americas 19.6 %, East Asia and Pacific 15.5 %, Africa 3.7 %, Middle East 2.3 % and South Asia 0.8 %. The most visited regions - Europe and North America - are also the most active tourist-sending regions. Tourism thus, unfortunately, reflects the global division of the modern world into rich and poor, which no doubt follows from the complex socio-economic structure of the world and its widening North-South gap. This notwithstanding tourism, if properly managed and promoted, can become a powerful weapon in the fight against poverty.

7. Modern tourism has inseparable, and, according to many observers, huge social, educational, cultural, health and ecological implications. For instance, in rural areas, tourism associated with other economic activities makes it possible to preserve the social fabric, to find new uses for the architectural heritage and money for its restoration2, to contribute to maintaining traditional agriculture linked to landscape conservation, and to enhance, or sometimes revive, local traditions and skills. Although for urban dwellers more tourism may mean more nuisance, pollution and congestion, adherence to intelligent or quality tourism management can provide a strong impetus for the consolidation and improvements of infrastructure and welfare networks. It should not be forgotten that the number of tourists in the world refers only to the international dimension, while the domestic one is also very important. Various sources show that in many countries domestic tourism – travel within the country of residence – seems to account for up to 70% of all stays.

8. Europe today receives 58% of all international tourists and over half the world’s tourism revenue, thereby maintaining a global lead. The share of tourism in GDP in a number of European countries is significant, representing 10.7 % in Spain, 7.7 % in Switzerland, 4.7 % in Portugal, 6.3 % in Austria, etc. The intra-European and domestic travel is particularly important, since 84% of arrivals in Europe represent travellers from within the region and about 60% of overnight stays in Europe are realized by citizens of the country in question. However, tourism is unequally spread amongst the regions of Europe, with 87% of the revenue concentrated in 12 countries while the other 34 receive only 13 %.

9. While in 2000, Europe received 403 million tourists, the WTO estimates that some 717 million tourists will visit Europe in 2020. Despite this growth, the average annual increase in international tourist arrivals to Europe over the next two decades is expected to be about 3.1%, that is, less than in other major tourist regions. (Tourism in the East Asia/Pacific region is projected to grow by 7.5% per annum, Africa by 5.3%, South Asia by 6.2% and the Americas by 3.9%). Europe thus is losing some of its market share of international arrivals, from 58% in 2000 to 45% in 2020. This trend may, however, be reversed if the countries of central and eastern Europe manage to attract more travellers in the future. Tourism remains an important item in the balance of payments for many European countries, and numerous accompanying sectors confirm the role of tourism as a key source of employment, although with considerable seasonal fluctuations depending on the region. In structural terms, European tourism is clearly dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises, with over 99 % of firms employing fewer than 250 persons.

10. The resource basis - both natural and cultural - of European tourism is among the best in the world. With its mainly temperate climate, varied landscape, rich flora and wildlife, Europe is much favoured by tourists. The Mediterranean, the Alps, the Atlantic offer attractive opportunities in the so-called ‘classical’ tourism of western Europe. The warmer seas of southern Europe, which attract almost a third of all tourist movements in the world, are of particular importance. The European shores of the Mediterranean remain the biggest tourist region of all, in spite of considerable saturation and even a partial degradation of its natural environment. Although tourist stays are still motivated primarily by sun and seaside, changes in tourist preferences are under way, gradually strengthening the position of central and eastern European countries (the sub-region’s market share is currently 19%) in world and especially European tourism.

11. Europe’s cultural heritage is particularly rich and attractive to tourists. The list of world heritage sites established by UNESCO is very comprehensive as regards Europe. More recently, the European heritage has been even more carefully defined, catalogued and brought to public knowledge through the Council of Europe’s campaign “Europe, a Common Heritage”3 and the European Union’s yearly designation of “European Cultural Capitals”. It is important to strengthen further the link between modern tourism and that heritage by promoting sustainable development and the coordination of the cultural and tourist policies.

       Political implications of modern tourism

12. Tourism has recently become the subject of political science studies, considering that it promotes international understanding and therefore peace. Contacts permit the learning of the way of life and thinking of others, works against prejudices and fosters exchanges of all sorts, thereby strengthening civilized intercourse between states. This has far-reaching sociological, psychological and political implications that are increasingly recognised by many international organisations. The Council of Europe, and in particular the Parliamentary Assembly with its own Sub-Committee for Tourism Development, is a good example. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also pays tribute to it in several of its texts.

13. We know that where there is war, or social and political instability, tourists will not go. Social, economic and political stability is vital for the development of tourism. Wars in the former Yugoslavia area, for example, brought tourism to a standstill, and the consequences were felt not only by directly affected countries but also by those in their vicinity. Besides, there are prolonged effects of armed conflicts and also terrorism. In the months following the tragic events of 11 September 2001 the WTO reported that travel reservations worldwide stood 12-15% below the levels of last year. Tourism is down also in the ‘hot spots’ of the Middle East.

14. Tourism must be viewed and encouraged as a bridge between peoples and a factor for strengthening peaceful international cooperation. However, by the same token tourism will be the first to suffer in the event of conflict or tension within and between countries. An interesting project in that vein – “Peace Through Tourism” - is now being developed by WTO, and there are similar initiatives under way throughout the world.


Tourism’s contribution to integration

15. Tourism is, no doubt, a major unifying force in Europe. The coming together of eastern and western Europe has triggered the search for common roots, some sort of ‘European identity’, in a history stretching over thousands of years, from the Atlantic to the Urals, from the Mediterranean to the Baltic. A common “European awareness” may be building, not of uniformity but of diversity with common roots. Our continent’s enormous historical and cultural patrimony offers a bright future for so-called cultural tourism. A new travel culture emphasising discovery, encounter and dialogue could contribute strongly to European unification and understanding among communities, through the finest things possessed by each. Tourism and culture are important because they are eminently humanistic and peaceful in their search for European individuality within a European commonness.

16. Worth mentioning in this context are the so-called European Routes of Culture which are promoted by the Council of Europe with the support of the EU. This successful project, launched in 1987, emphasises the common heritage of Europe and the links between its citizens. Experts of various professions are involved and potential itineraries are scrutinised for approval. It is encouraging that the more recent member states of the Council of Europe are now fully involved in this cooperation, which also includes so-called ‘transcultural routes’. Projects such as this belie any alleged “crisis of European identity” and instead support the very idea of a more united Europe by encouraging cultural tourism.

17. Although the European Union countries have for many years maintained a leading position in world tourism as a main source and a main destination for international travel, tourism became the subject of official EU policy only relatively late. The reasons were diverging national interests, the need for consensus in formulating policy and the concern, especially in the wake of the Maastricht Treaty, for subsidiarity. Because of different political traditions, tourist policies, organisational set-ups and national legislation, countries were reluctant to transfer any competences to supranational bodies.

18. This notwithstanding, the EU in 1982 presented a plan for a ‘Common Tourist Policy’. The 1986 European Single Act contained Legal Guidelines for Travelling, leading in 1992 to a three-year Action Plan to Assist Tourism, and in 1995 to a so-called ‘Green Paper’ on the Role of the EU in Tourism. Part of the EU action was to direct so-called structural funds toward tourism projects linked to quality of tourist products, dissemination of information through new technologies, environmental protection, sustainable development and the training of people employed in tourism. The EU has also been engaged in establishing standards in tourism, to be valid also for future EU members. Such standards will become even more necessary with the introduction of the euro in more and more European countries along with EU enlargement.

19. Increasingly, tourism is seen as providing a major opportunity for future job creation, especially in less developed and peripheral regions. Some sources consulted by the Rapporteur predict that travel and tourism jobs will soon account for up to 9% of total employment in the EU, compared with 6% at present. The Community activities on behalf of tourism are now therefore embedded in the ‘tourism for employment’ process.

20. The Council of Europe also deals with tourism, directly or indirectly, in its recommendations, resolutions, agreements and conventions, not least under the inspiration of the Sub-Committee on Tourism Development of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development. They concern in particular the freedom of movement and travel, protection of the environment and the architectural heritage, culture and education, as well as the legal and social protection of tourists. The Council of Europe attaches special attention to the role of tourism in promoting regional development and employment in economically disadvantaged areas, for instance in reviving traditional activities. The European Campaign for the countryside has achieved much in this regard.

21. Elements of tourist policies can also be found in activities of international organizations within the United Nations framework, such as the WTO, the UNPE, the WHO, the ILO4, or in organisations such as the OECD, the World Travel and Tourist Council (WTTC), big professional associations. All these bodies deal with tourism, either directly or indirectly, because it affects so many aspects of their core activities and because it is so interdisciplinary. It is heartening to see that the countries in central and eastern Europe are joining existing European tourist associations in their effort to make up for the long period of isolation under communism. Many of them are now privatising at least part of their tourism sector and are adopting European standards of operation in order to participate in the increasingly globalised competition for tourists. Some have not yet managed to attract any major foreign capital for modernisation of their tourism industry, while others – such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland – have been more successful in this regard.

22. In spite of the ongoing process of privatisation and liberalisation in the tourism sector, it would be premature to dismiss the role of state and para-state bodies in the sector. One primary role for them will be to create a favourable ‘legislative environment’ for tourism development. The Rapporteur refers to such areas as tax policy, regional development, and the rescheduling of debt for financially strained tourist facilities. Certain transition countries must pay particular attention to the protection of the environment, the training of personnel and run-down tourist attractions.


23. The World Tourism Organisation is the leading international body in the field of travel and tourism. Since its founding in 1975, the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) has served as a global forum for tourism policy matters and a source of tourism know-how in trying to assist the development of tourism around the world. Thirty-three European countries – most of them member states of the Council of Europe – participate actively in the work of the 138-member-strong WTO. The Rapporteur hopes that European countries5 not yet members of the WTO will consider joining it. Among the more recent initiatives of particular relevance to Europe, two deserve special mention: the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA). Both were adopted in 1999.

24. The ten-point global Code of Ethics for Tourism (see Appendix) sets a frame of reference for the responsible and sustainable development of world tourism. It draws inspiration from many earlier declarations and industry codes, as well as from consultations with the private sector, non-governmental organisations, labour organisations and more than 70 WTO member states and other entities. With international tourism forecast to nearly triple in volume over the next 20 years, the World Tourism Organization believes that the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism can reduce the negative impact of tourism on the environment and the cultural heritage, while maximizing the benefits for residents at tourism destinations.

25. The code includes nine articles outlining the principles to be observed by governments, tour operators, developers, travel agents, workers and travellers. The tenth article deals with the redress of grievances and marks the first time that a code of this type has a mechanism for enforcement. It is based on conciliation through the creation of a World Committee on Tourism Ethics made up of representatives of each region of the world and representatives of each group of stakeholders in the tourism sector - governments, the private sector, labour and non-governmental organizations.

26. For the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism to become a ‘live force’ in tourism development it has to be as widely known as possible, so that everyone could participate in its implementation. Only through close cooperation can we safeguard the future of the tourism industry and expand the sector's contribution to economic prosperity, peace and understanding among all the nations of the world.

27. The Tourism Satellite Account - or TSA in short – contains the UN-endorsed set of international standards aimed at measuring the economic impact of tourism on national economies. It suggests a number of global definitions and standard indicators on tourism in order to permit international comparisons as regards the industry’s contribution to national GDP, employment, investment and the share of tourism in a country’s balance of payments. Many international organisations, including the International Labour Organisation and the World Travel and Tourism Council, contributed to the elaboration of the TSA standards. Although the TSA finds growing adherence in many countries, further efforts must be undertaken to make it easier to implement. The Assembly and our Economic Committee should work steadfastly to ensure the widest possible acceptance and use of the TSA in Council of Europe member states.


       Challenges of globalisation: what will the future bring?

28. Globalisation is marked by an ever greater mutual dependence of markets due to liberalization of investment and trade in goods and services; the freer flow of capital; and innovation. All this leads to rapid integration and a new division of labour at global level. Unfortunately, this is often accompanied by similarly globalised ecological problems. The development of mass tourism may add to the problem when it leads to excesses and damage to the natural and cultural environment, as opposed to a balanced, quality tourism that on the contrary constitutes a most valuable resource for less favoured regions.

29. The end of the last century brought major changes to tourism, especially as regards demand, that is, consumption patterns. The shares of younger, and older, people, have gone up. Vacations come more frequently and are shorter. Cultural tourism has expanded, mostly favouring towns, and the ‘culture-art-religion’ combination has gained ground. ‘Event tourism’ and ‘congress tourism’ are growing also, as do related ‘show-business’ and sports events. More aware and better informed visitors look for well preserved destinations, involving education and promise of a better health or gastronomy. More and more people are looking for outlets for their creativity and individual experiences when vacationing. They are in a search for the local atmosphere and contacts with hosts.

30. Tourism and the internet are ideal partners. The spread of information technology influences tourist choices by making tourist information easily accessible through the Internet. Online ticket selling, more value-added services, improved destination marketing and greater competition are examples of benefits that modern information technology brings to both travellers and tour operators. According to the WTO, growth in online travel sales has been rapid compared to other products, that it may within two or three years account for nearly half of all e-commerce.

31. Still, however, tourism in Europe remains predominantly European, as 84-90% of the region’s tourists are from within the area. Promoting intra-European tourism, especially between its western and eastern parts, is therefore a major task. This means the overcoming of capacity constraints in various locations and adapting to changes in demand and even demographic factors such the ageing of European populations. Globalisation is making competition ever more severe, posing a particular challenge to the small and middle-sized companies (mainly family businesses) that dominate in the tourist economy (according to the European Commission over 94% of tourism enterprises in Europe employ fewer than 10 persons).

32. New tourist destinations will also abound as a result of globalisation, often in developing countries. They will attract by their exotism, prices and quality service, competing with the more established sites. Parallel to this, the big travel operators will make their offers more uniform, leading to a loss in the national, regional and local characteristics of travelling. Against this the consumer-tourist may well rebel, possibly leading to a change in what the market will offer.

33. European tourists of the 21st century will also be increasingly concerned for their personal safety. Quality of tourism will count more than the price, as a result of greater wealth. Tourism offers will have to become more imaginative, if Europe is to preserve its position as a top destination. Mass tourism will coexist with ever more specialised offers even as the latter gains more ground. Finally, tourists of the future will be better informed about the market than their forebears thanks to the Internet.

34. Although some see the state as withdrawing from the tourist sector, larger regional groups, and in particular the EU, are in the process of shaping a common tourist policy. Today, the role of the nation state can largely be reduced to the following tasks: ensuring a legal and administrative framework, building infrastructure (primarily in the fields of transport and telecommunications), education and professional training. The competence of European governments in tourism is thus first of all connected with general development, including regional policy which fits into a tripartite relationship: the travelling company, the destination and the country. The national promotion of tourism in foreign countries is mostly done through para-state bodies.

35. Earlier competences of central state bodies in tourism were considerable in a number of countries. They have often since been ceded to regional and local agencies, in line with the general trend of our time. On the other hand, many popular tourist destinations would not have been able to reach their present standing without strong initial efforts of the government in building infrastructure, attracting foreign capital, etc. Spain, France, Turkey, Portugal are good examples of this. In western Europe, the tourist sector is now comparatively liberalised and left to private incentive.

36. This process has multiplied the number of actors involved in tourism-making. Depending on circumstances, a tourism project or activity may be the result of a single initiative or a combination of individual ideas, but it will require concerted efforts of various players for its implementation. It is therefore becoming increasingly important for tourism development to find appropriate co-ordinating bodies and legal instruments to promote partnerships among local players, outside operators, the local population and tourists. The promotion of public-private partnerships capable of combining private interests and collective needs should become an important element of tourism policies.

37. In gradually passing over to market rule, countries of central and eastern Europe face special difficulties. As their problems are many and diverse, the pace of progress in developing their tourism sector varies. If in a number of countries privatisation is still under way and much remains to be done to improve basic infrastructure suffering from decades of under-investment, most are struggling to consolidate their economic growth. Fortunately, peace and stability has returned to south-eastern Europe. Three countries – the Russian Federation, Hungary and Poland – have succeeded best in overcoming the turbulences of the past and now rank among the world’s top fifteen tourism destinations.

38. With global competition stiffening, the key to tapping the tourism potential of central and eastern Europe lies in the ability of these countries to catch up with western Europe in terms of economic development, improve their communication policies and make better use of their human resources. The state will continue to play a major role, not only in defining strategic goals of countries’ tourism policies but also in their implementation and constant adjustment to new circumstances. State guidance may prove particularly useful in tourism-related regional development, training and the creation of public-private partnerships, while tax incentives for the promotion of national cultural heritage and quality tourism projects may well be indispensable. The Rapporteur also wishes to draw attention to the unfortunate practice in some countries to charge higher prices for foreigners than for their own citizens when it comes to tourist services such as hotel rooms or visits to cultural events and monuments. Such practice is discriminatory and therefore unacceptable - it should be abandoned as quickly as possible.

39. The relationship between tourism and the environment is a delicate one. If earlier the success of a place, site or monument as a tourist attraction used to be measured directly and exclusively in terms of growth in the number of visitors, it is now increasingly recognised that success is more a question of economic viability and balanced management of resources that could benefit visitors and residents alike. Development of ‘quality tourism’ is becoming a necessity, especially in Europe, where a number of popular tourist destinations suffer from overcrowding, pollution and depletion, thus becoming victims of their own success. In extreme cases, too much tourism risks to kill tourism.

40. With a growing understanding that sustainability and quality of development are essential, the emphasis in tourism policies are bound to shift gradually towards more preventive planning, rehabilitation of sites and diversification of offers. However, despite some encouraging successes, much remains to be done to make all the players in the tourism industry to embrace the principles of sustainable development6. Self-regulation in tourism could and should play a greater role. Promoting voluntary adherence to environmental quality certification schemes (eco-labelling) may be a good start for integrating the environment into the management of tourism businesses.

41. Alarmed by mounting pressures on the global and local environment, the United Nations, the WTO and the United Nations Environment Programme have joined forces to promote a more nature-friendly development based on a coherent philosophy of nature conservation and economic development. The year 2002 has thus been designated by the UN as the ‘International Year of Ecotourism’. Nature-based, respectful of local communities and traditional cultures and generally organised for small groups by specialised, often locally owned, businesses, ecotourism at present is thought to account for up to modest 5% of the tourism market7.

42. In Europe, the special attraction of ecotourism is the unique combination of nature and culture. Ecotourism has proven to be one of the most effective means of financing the protection and conservation of both. Luckily for Europeans, the number of ecotourists keeps growing not because of additional tourists but due to more travellers changing their behaviour and interests. However, with many ecosystems such as dunes, coastal zones and mountain areas on our continent being so vulnerable to overcrowding, ecotourism merits even greater support in Europe. European countries should contribute to the International Year of Ecotourism by ensuring that national tourism authorities together with environment agencies and other stakeholders define or strengthen national strategies and programmes for action in favour of sustainable development and ecotourism.

43. Particularly noteworthy in this context is the work of the Council of Europe over the last decade. In an attempt help member states to tackle policy mismatches between tourism and the environment, it elaborated a set of Recommendations8 on sustainable tourism development policies, in particular as regards protected areas and coastal zones. In 2000 it adopted the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development in Europe and a programme for greater cohesion among Europe’s regions. It also opened for signature the European Landscape Convention, while negotiations continue for a European Outline Convention on Mountain Regions. The Parliamentary Assembly’s input to this work has been considerable, ranging from initiatives and consultation to proposals for implementation of texts and the definition of priorities.

44. Advancing towards sustainability and enhanced quality in tourism is both necessary and possible. Similarly, the formulation and implementation of sustainable strategies for tourist destinations involve important changes that call for a strong governmental leadership, a concerted effort from the private sector and a widespread public participation. Regional co-operation and the linking of private and public initiatives and resources through partnerships for innovative tourism could and should become major drives for change in this field. National parliaments could usefully contribute to the process by putting in place the legal framework and the incentives for the formation of public-private partnerships.


45. The future of European tourism in the 21st century looks bright, always assuming a stable political framework of peace, international understanding and co-operation. WTO forecasts a doubling in the number of foreign arrivals by 2020 from 1995, or 717 million, with the fastest growth in transition countries of about 5% annually. These latter countries will double their tourism sector already by 2016, reaching 200 million arrivals. Of the world’s top ten destinations in 2020, six are expected to be European: France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Russian Federation and the Czech Republic. Moreover, six of world’s ten most important sending countries will be European: Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation and Italy. Four of them, - France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Russia – will thus be among the most important receiving and sending countries.

46. Europe will remain the largest receiving region, although its share in world tourism is forecast to go down by up to 12% in the next 25 years. Visitors from East Asia, the Pacific and Africa will grow fastest in number and will outnumber tourists from North America. A further growth of long-distance travel is expected due to high growth rates in the number of visitors from Asia and the Pacific. However, the percentage of Europeans visiting Europe will go down slightly.

47. Nothing is as difficult to predict as the future. However, it is safe to assume that tourism in Europe will remain a strong vehicle for development and economic growth. This is so even though many unknown factors may enter into the equation – resulting from technological developments, demographic changes, new consumer preferences, to even a climate potentially going bizarre due to ‘global warming’.

48. Awareness of the importance of tourism should be developed already in schools and pursued in higher education, leading thereby to heightened awareness of the need for hospitality vis-à-vis visitors and of the role of tourism in the national economy. For it is ultimately up to many people in their daily lives to enhance the well-being of both visitors and hosts. Politicians at all levels must engage in the development of tourism by setting the right framework of laws, taxation and policies.

49. Stronger regional cooperation in Europe, such as through the Alpine-Adriatic Regional Cooperation Community, the Danube Regions Cooperation Community, the Central-European Incentive, the Quadrigonal and others, will enable a smoother flow of tourism, apart from fostering good neighbourly relations. The role of the public bodies, including the state, in the strategic orientation of tourism is valid still today. Bilateral and multilateral cooperation among countries in tourism likewise remains important.

Appendix:        The Principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism

Article 1: Tourism's contribution to mutual understanding and respect between peoples and societies

1. The understanding and promotion of the ethical values common to humanity, with an attitude of tolerance and respect for the diversity of religious, philosophical and moral beliefs, are both the foundation and the consequence of responsible tourism; stakeholders in tourism development and tourists themselves should observe the social and cultural traditions and practices of all peoples, including those of minorities and indigenous peoples and to recognize their worth;

2. Tourism activities should be conducted in harmony with the attributes and traditions of the host regions and countries and in respect for their laws, practices and customs;

3. The host communities, on the one hand, and local professionals, on the other, should acquaint themselves with and respect the tourists who visit them and find out about their lifestyles, tastes and expectations; the education and training imparted to professionals contribute to a hospitable welcome;

4. It is the task of the public authorities to provide protection for tourists and visitors and their belongings; they must pay particular attention to the safety of foreign tourists owing to the particular vulnerability they may have; they should facilitate the introduction of specific means of information, prevention, security, insurance and assistance consistent with their needs; any attacks, assaults, kidnappings or threats against tourists or workers in the tourism industry, as well as the wilful destruction of tourism facilities or of elements of cultural or natural heritage should be severely condemned and punished in accordance with their respective national laws;

5. When travelling, tourists and visitors should not commit any criminal act or any act considered criminal by the laws of the country visited and abstain from any conduct felt to be offensive or injurious by the local populations, or likely to damage the local environment; they should refrain from all trafficking in illicit drugs, arms, antiques, protected species and products and substances that are dangerous or prohibited by national regulations;

6. Tourists and visitors have the responsibility to acquaint themselves, even before their departure, with the characteristics of the countries they are preparing to visit; they must be aware of the health and security risks inherent in any travel outside their usual environment and behave in such a way as to minimize those risks;

Article 2: Tourism as a vehicle for individual and collective fulfilment

1.       Tourism, the activity most frequently associated with rest and relaxation, sport and access to culture and nature, should be planned and practised as a privileged means of individual and collective fulfilment; when practised with a sufficiently open mind, it is an irreplaceable factor of self-education, mutual tolerance and for learning about the legitimate differences between peoples and cultures and their diversity;

1. Tourism activities should respect the equality of men and women; they should promote human rights and, more particularly, the individual rights of the most vulnerable groups, notably children, the elderly, the handicapped, ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples;

3.        The exploitation of human beings in any form, particularly sexual, especially when applied to children, conflicts with the fundamental aims of tourism and is the negation of tourism; as such, in accordance with international law, it should be energetically combated with the cooperation of all the States concerned and penalized without concession by the national legislation of both the countries visited and the countries of the perpetrators of these acts, even when they are carried out abroad;

4.       Travel for purposes of religion, health, education and cultural or linguistic exchanges are particularly beneficial forms of tourism, which deserve encouragement;

5.       The introduction into curricula of education about the value of tourist exchanges, their economic, social and cultural benefits, and also their risks, should be encouraged;

Article 3: Tourism, a factor of sustainable development

1. All the stakeholders in tourism development should safeguard the natural environment with a view to achieving sound, continuous and sustainable economic growth geared to satisfying equitably the needs and aspirations of present and future generations;

2. All forms of tourism development that are conducive to saving rare and precious resources, in particular water and energy, as well as avoiding so far as possible waste production, should be given priority and encouraged by national, regional and local public authorities;

3. The staggering in time and space of tourist and visitor flows, particularly those resulting from paid leave and school holidays, and a more even distribution of holidays should be sought so as to reduce the pressure of tourism activity on the environment and enhance its beneficial impact on the tourism industry and the local economy;

4. Tourism infrastructure should be designed and tourism activities programmed in such a way as to protect the natural heritage composed of ecosystems and biodiversity and to preserve endangered species of wildlife; the stakeholders in tourism development, and especially professionals, should agree to the imposition of limitations or constraints on their activities when these are exercised in particularly sensitive areas: desert, polar or high mountain regions, coastal areas, tropical forests or wetlands, propitious to the creation of nature reserves or protected areas;

5. Nature tourism and ecotourism are recognized as being particularly conducive to enriching and enhancing the standing of tourism, provided they respect the natural heritage and local populations and are in keeping with the carrying capacity of the sites;

Article 4: Tourism, a user of the cultural heritage of mankind and contributor to its enhancement

1. Tourism resources belong to the common heritage of mankind; the communities in whose territories they are situated have particular rights and obligations to them;

2. Tourism policies and activities should be conducted with respect for the artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage, which they should protect and pass on to future generations; particular care should be devoted to preserving and upgrading monuments, shrines and museums as well as archaeological and historic sites which must be widely open to tourist visits; encouragement should be given to public access to privately-owned cultural property and monuments, with respect for the rights of their owners, as well as to religious buildings, without prejudice to normal needs of worship;

3. Financial resources derived from visits to cultural sites and monuments should, at least in part, be used for the upkeep, safeguard, development and embellishment of this heritage;

4. Tourism activity should be planned in such a way as to allow traditional cultural products, crafts and folklore to survive and flourish, rather than causing them to degenerate and become standardized;

Article 5: Tourism, a beneficial activity for host countries and communities

1. Local populations should be associated with tourism activities and share equitably in the economic, social and cultural benefits they generate, and particularly in the creation of direct and indirect jobs resulting from them;

2. Tourism policies should be applied in such a way as to help to raise the standard of living of the populations of the regions visited and meet their needs; the planning and architectural approach to and operation of tourism resorts and accommodation should aim to integrate them, to the extent possible, in the local economic and social fabric; where skills are equal, priority should be given to local manpower;

3. Special attention should be paid to the specific problems of coastal areas and island territories and to vulnerable rural or mountain regions, for which tourism often represents a rare opportunity for development in the face of the decline of traditional economic activities;

4. Tourism professionals, particularly investors, governed by the regulations laid down by the public authorities, should carry out studies of the impact of their development projects on the environment and natural surroundings; they should also deliver, with the greatest transparency and objectivity, information on their future programmes and their foreseeable repercussions and foster dialogue on their contents with the populations concerned;

Article 6: Obligations of stakeholders in tourism development

1. Tourism professionals have an obligation to provide tourists with objective and honest information on their places of destination and on the conditions of travel, hospitality and stays; they should ensure that the contractual clauses proposed to their customers are readily understandable as to the nature, price and quality of the services they commit themselves to providing and the financial compensation payable by them in the event of a unilateral breach of contract on their part;

2. Tourism professionals, insofar as it depends on them, should show concern, in co-operation with the public authorities, for the security and safety, accident prevention, health protection and food safety of those who seek their services; likewise, they should ensure the existence of suitable systems of insurance and assistance; they should accept the reporting obligations prescribed by national regulations and pay fair compensation in the event of failure to observe their contractual obligations;

3. Tourism professionals, so far as this depends on them, should contribute to the cultural and spiritual fulfilment of tourists and allow them, during their travels, to practise their religions;

4. The public authorities of the generating States and the host countries, in cooperation with the professionals concerned and their associations, should ensure that the necessary mechanisms are in place for the repatriation of tourists in the event of the bankruptcy of the enterprise that organized their travel;

5. Governments have the right – and the duty - especially in a crisis, to inform their nationals of the difficult circumstances, or even the dangers they may encounter during their travels abroad; it is their responsibility however to issue such information without prejudicing in an unjustified or exaggerated manner the tourism industry of the host countries and the interests of their own operators; the contents of travel advisories should therefore be discussed beforehand with the authorities of the host countries and the professionals concerned; recommendations formulated should be strictly proportionate to the gravity of the situations encountered and confined to the geographical areas where the insecurity has arisen; such advisories should be qualified or cancelled as soon as a return to normality permits;

6. The press, and particularly the specialized travel press and the other media, including modern means of electronic communication, should issue honest and balanced information on events and situations that could influence the flow of tourists; they should also provide accurate and reliable information to the consumers of tourism services; the new communication and electronic commerce technologies should also be developed and used for this purpose; as is the case for the media, they should not in any way promote sex tourism;

Article 7: Right to tourism

1. The prospect of direct and personal access to the discovery and enjoyment of the planet’s resources constitutes a right equally open to all the world’s inhabitants; the increasingly extensive participation in national and international tourism should be regarded as one of the best possible expressions of the sustained growth of free time, and obstacles should not be placed in its way;

2. The universal right to tourism must be regarded as the corollary of the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, guaranteed by Article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7.d of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;

3. Social tourism, and in particular associative tourism, which facilitates widespread access to leisure, travel and holidays, should be developed with the support of the public authorities;

4. Family, youth, student and senior tourism and tourism for people with disabilities, should be encouraged and facilitated;

Article 8: Liberty of tourist movements

1. Tourists and visitors should benefit, in compliance with international law and national legislation, from the liberty to move within their countries and from one State to another, in accordance with Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; they should have access to places of transit and stay and to tourism and cultural sites without being subject to excessive formalities or discrimination;

2. Tourists and visitors should have access to all available forms of communication, internal or external; they should benefit from prompt and easy access to local administrative, legal and health services; they should be free to contact the consular representatives of their countries of origin in compliance with the diplomatic conventions in force;

3. Tourists and visitors should benefit from the same rights as the citizens of the country visited concerning the confidentiality of the personal data and information concerning them, especially when these are stored electronically;

4. Administrative procedures relating to border crossings whether they fall within the competence of States or result from international agreements, such as visas or health and customs formalities, should be adapted, so far as possible, so as to facilitate to the maximum freedom of travel and widespread access to international tourism; agreements between groups of countries to harmonize and simplify these procedures should be encouraged; specific taxes and levies penalizing the tourism industry and undermining its competitiveness should be gradually phased out or corrected;

5. So far as the economic situation of the countries from which they come permits, travellers should have access to allowances of convertible currencies needed for their travels;

Article 9:
Rights of the workers and entrepreneurs in the tourism industry

1. The fundamental rights of salaried and self-employed workers in the tourism industry and related activities, should be guaranteed under the supervision of the national and local administrations, both of their States of origin and of the host countries with particular care, given the specific constraints linked in particular to the seasonality of their activity, the global dimension of their industry and the flexibility often required of them by the nature of their work;

2. Salaried and self-employed workers in the tourism industry and related activities have the right and the duty to acquire appropriate initial and continuous training; they should be given adequate social protection; job insecurity should be limited so far as possible; and a specific status, with particular regard to their social welfare, should be offered to seasonal workers in the sector;

3. Any natural or legal person, provided he, she or it has the necessary abilities and skills, should be entitled to develop a professional activity in the field of tourism under existing national laws; entrepreneurs and investors - especially in the area of small and medium-sized enterprises - should be entitled to free access to the tourism sector with a minimum of legal or administrative restrictions;

4. Exchanges of experience offered to executives and workers, whether salaried or not, from different countries, contributes to foster the development of the world tourism industry; these movements should be facilitated so far as possible in compliance with the applicable national laws and international conventions;

5. As an irreplaceable factor of solidarity in the development and dynamic growth of international exchanges, multinational enterprises of the tourism industry should not exploit the dominant positions they sometimes occupy; they should avoid becoming the vehicles of cultural and social models artificially imposed on the host communities; in exchange for their freedom to invest and trade which should be fully recognized, they should involve themselves in local development, avoiding, by the excessive repatriation of their profits or their induced imports, a reduction of their contribution to the economies in which they are established;

6.       Partnership and the establishment of balanced relations between enterprises of generating and receiving countries contribute to the sustainable development of tourism and an equitable distribution of the benefits of its growth;

Article 10: Implementation of the principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism

1. The public and private stakeholders in tourism development should cooperate in the implementation of these principles and monitor their effective application;

2. The stakeholders in tourism development should recognize the role of international institutions, among which the World Tourism Organization ranks first, and non-governmental organizations with competence in the field of tourism promotion and development, the protection of human rights, the environment or health, with due respect for the general principles of international law;

3. The same stakeholders should demonstrate their intention to refer any disputes concerning the application or interpretation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism for conciliation to an impartial third body known as the World Committee on Tourism Ethics.

Reporting committee: Committee on Economic Affairs and Development.

Reference to committee: Order No. 541 (1998) and Doc. 8720 and Reference No. 2507 of 16 May 2000

Draft resolution unanimously adopted by the committee on 25 April 2002.

Members of the committee: Mrs Zapfl-Helbling (Chairperson), Mrs Stepova (Vice-chairperson), Mr Kirilov, Mr Blaauw (Vice-chairmen), Mr Adam, Mr Agius, Mr Agramunt, Mrs Akgönenç, Mr I. Aliyev (Alternate: Mr Abbasov), Ms Anderson (Alternate: Baroness Hooper), Mr Arnau (Alternate: Mr Yanez-Barnuevo), Mr Aylward, Mr Berceanu (Alternate: Mr Baciu) , Mr Billing,  Mr Braun, Mr Brunhart, Mr Budin, Mr Budisa, Mrs Burbiené, Mrs Calner, Mr Cerrahoglu, Mr Cosarciuc, Mr Crema, Mr Djupedal, Mr Elo, Mr Eyskens, Mr Felici, Mr Galoyan, Mr Grachev (Alternate: Ms Yarygina), Mr Gülek, Mr Gusenbauer, Mr Haupert, Mrs Hoffmann, Mr Hrebenciuc, Mr Jung (Alternate: Mrs Durrieu), Mr Kacin, Mrs Kestelijn-Sierens, Mr Kosakivsky, Mr Leers, Mr Liapis, Mr Lotz, Mr Makhachev, Mr Mateju, Mr Mikkelsen, Mr Mitterrand, Mr Naumov (Alternate: Mr Tulaev), Mr Palis, Mrs Patarkalishvili, Mr Pavlidis, Mr Pereira Coelho, Mrs Pericleous-Papadopoulos, Mrs Pintat Rossell, Mr Pleshakov, Mr Podgorski, Mr Popa, Mr Popescu, Mr Popovski, Mr Prokes, Mr Puche, Mrs Ragnarsdottir, Mr Ramponi (Alternate: Mr Rigoni), Mr Reimann, Mr Rivolta, Lord Russell-Johnston (Alternate: Mr Banks), Mr Schmitz (Alternate: Mr Buwitt), Mrs Schoettel-Delacher, Mr Schreiner, Mr Seyidov, Ms Smith (Alternate: Mr Marshall), Mr Stefanov, Mr Suslov, Mr Texeira de Melo, Mr Valleix, Mr Voog, Mr Walter, Mr Wielowieyski, Mr Wikinski

N.B. The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in italics.

Head of Secretariat: Mr Torbiörn

Secretaries to the committee: Mr Bertozzi, Ms Ramanauskaite and Ms Kopaçi-Di Michele

1 Council of Europe Conference “Heritage of Tourism and Travel”, 15-16 October 1999, Nice (France); 3rd WTO Forum “Parliaments and Local Authorities: Tourism Policy-Makers in the 21st Century”, 15-16 May 2000, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Council of Europe Conference “Sustainable Tourism, Environment and Employment”’, 11-13 October 2000, Berlin (Germany); European Conference “Ecotourism in Mountain Areas – a Challenge to Sustainable Development”, 12-15 September 2001, St. Johann-Pongau and Werfenweng, Salzburg (Austria).

2 Good examples of this are the ‘Parador’ (a combination of beautiful location with historical or stylish new buildings) sites in Spain, the French network of rural guest houses and castles, old British farms converted into ‘bed & breakfast’ facilities, etc.

3 The Campaign (September 1999 – September 2000) aimed to highlight the value of cultural diversity and heritage across Europe through exchanges and a great many of projects, including European Heritage Days, A European Association of Historic Towns, Decorative Art Workshops, Natural Heritage Networks, etc.

4 WTO – World Tourism Organisation; UNPE – United Nations Programme for the Environment; WHO – World Health Organisation; ILO – International Labour Organisation.

5 Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom.

6 The WTO as early as 1988 defined sustainable tourism as “leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems”.

7 Proceedings of the International Conference “Ecotourism in Mountain Areas – a Challenge to Sustainable Development” held at St. Johann/Pongau and Werfenweng, Salzburg (Austria), in September 2001

8 Recommendation No. R (94) on a general policy for sustainable and environment-friendly tourism development; Recommendation No. R (95) on a sustainable tourism development policy in protected areas; Recommendation No. R (97) on a policy for the development of sustainable environment-friendly tourism in coastal areas.