Fragmentation of the tourism industry makes it harder for tourism operators to form a strong lobby to encourage the EU to formulate policies in favour of the industry and there is a lack of co-ordination between stakeholders at European level. The existence of many groups with varied agendas and priorities present further problems to the EU institutions other than just keeping in regular contact. Groups are not able to communicate as effectively as perhaps they would like. The groups’ tendency to present a fragmented agenda during consultations leave EU institutional representatives unsure of how best to assist the sector.

The Commission and the Parliament would like to see the tourism industry pull together and formulate a tourism umbrella, which will encompass the entirety of tourism interests, become the voice of the sector and act as a single point of reference for the institutions. This action would also help raise the image of the activity in the EU institutions. If the industry would speak together with huge authority for all people who work within the industry there are many things that they could agree on. Through improved communication and co-operation tourism interest groups would gain a better understanding of their own agendas and reap greater benefits.

Tourism businesses, however,  find it difficult to speak with a unified voice  because their respective interests are diverse, or even conflicting. First, they consider that tourism interests are too wide and too diverse to be placed under the same banner. Tourism is a composite, a whole range of industries bundled together, which end up being called tourism. Different sectors have different interests. The composite nature of the tourist activity distinguishes it from other economic activities with traditionally strong lobbies, such as agriculture, where speaking with one voice effectively is possible. Tourism Interest groups representatives hold the views that presenting a common voice on certain issues rather than a single voice for all issues is a more relevant and realistic proposition. In brief, the common voice approach supports a system of common and individual representation depending on the issue at hand while dismissing the single voice as being unrealistic.

There are examples of cross interest collaborations and tourism umbrella groups at the EU level of variable influence and success. Some of these groups have stood the test of time and have actively tried to influence the agenda by putting forward position statements. Other coalitions of interest, which encompassed a wider range of stakeholders and focused on specific issues, have not stood the test of time or have been less successful. There have been several attempts to establish coalitions of interest between groups based on the common voice and loose cooperation principles, but most have been short lived and largely undocumented.

The diversity and fragmentation of tourism as an economic activity, the overlap of representation by some organisations and the competition and rivalry between different interests are reasons why the sector has traditionally failed to organise better . Some groups may recognize the benefits of closer cooperation but the failure to attract the support of a wider range of groups impairs their attempt to establish an industry-wide coalition driven by the tourism representatives.  

The absence of a specific competence for tourism at the EU level (The EU’s competence in tourism is one of support and coordination to supplement the actions of member countries) means the growth of tourism, and by association tourism business interests, are the responsibility of national and subnational governments. Although the relationship between the groups and the institutions is established, it is not strong enough to affect policy. This is also conditioned by the division of power within the EU institutions and the control member states retain in terms of tourism policy. As the European Parliament and the European Commission are the only institutions with some degree of authority over tourism fortunes, they attract most of the tourism interests’ lobbying efforts. Interest groups are not necessarily in favour of an explicit tourism policy, which ultimately conditions the focus of their lobbying efforts. The lack of resources, conflict, overlap, the openness of the policy arena to all players and the influences that stem from the external environment demonstrate that the tourism policy environment displays more of the characteristics of the issue network than that of a policy community.

Key Lobbying Issues

  1. Travel and Visa Facilitation (Europe needs a smart visa and border management policy: Recast of EU visa code, Visa-reciprocity, European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), Visa Code-Trilogue Negotiations
  2. Digital Single Market (Properly functioning rules on online market search, transparency of prices and reviews, use and ownership of customer data and access to digital products and services)
  3. Standardization of tourism services (the vast majority of the European tourism industry is not in favour of developing European or international standards for their activities)
  4. Streamlining the regulatory and administrative framework impacting tourism at European level, but also at national, regional and local level
  5. Taxation (Taxation at local, national, and EU level, has a direct impact on consumer prices and therefore, the competitiveness of Europe vis-à-vis other regions. Europe needs more coordinated action on a smart and fair taxation of tourism in Europe.
  6. Improving the governance of the Tourism sector
  7. Promoting sustainable and responsible tourism
  8. Upgrading the skills and competences in the tourism sector
  9. Fostering low and medium season tourism exchanges
  10. Improving intermodality and transport connectivity
  11. Joint promotion of Europe as a tourist destination, mainly in third countries’ markets
  12. Tourism safety


Add new comment