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EU Programmes, Funds, Initiatives

23 September 2009
by inadim -- last modified 24 September 2009

Although the European Community has no direct competence in the area of tourism, European policies in a number of other sectors have a considerable and even growing impact on tourism. Moreover, a number of actions relating to tourism are supported through EU programmes, including in the fields of education, vocational training, youth, culture, consumers and regional policy.


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A list of information on various EU programmes, schemes, funds, initiatives and actions of interest to the tourism sector:

1. Structural Funds: The Commission has foreseen the possibility of funding sustainable tourism-related projects through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in support of social and economic development. Under its three objectives, "Convergence", "Regional Competitiveness and Employment" and "European Territorial Cooperation", the ERDF shall support more sustainable patterns of tourism to enhance cultural and natural heritage, develop accessibility and mobility related infrastructure as well as to promote ICT, innovative SMEs, business networks and clusters, higher value added services, joint cross-border tourism strategies and inter-regional exchange of experience. Environment and transport infrastructures, both of utmost importance for tourism, are also financed by the Cohesion Fund.

2. Tourism development, given its employment creation potential, is an important domain of the European Social Fund's (ESF) intervention. Amongst others, the ESF co-finances projects targeting educational programmes and training in order to enhance productivity and the quality of employment and services in the tourism sector. The ESF provides also targeted training combined with small start-up premiums to tourism micro-enterprises. These actions tend to be very effective in creating economic activity and employment. It also co-finances actions that support professional mobility.

3. Following up on a European Parliament initiative for the introduction of a specific measure under the 'Leonardo da Vinci' programme (part of the new "Integrated Lifelong Learning Programme") in the form of a mobility programme for apprentices and young persons in initial vocational training, the Commission launched, in 2005, a preparatory series of studies having as an objective to identify the main features of possible European apprenticeship-training models and offer greater insight into the possible obstacles to mobility in vocational training. Tourism has been identified as a possible pilot sector. This should lead to concrete proposals for solutions which will form the basis for a programme of specific actions to be implemented in phase two of this pilot project.

4. Rural areas have become more attractive and offer many environmental amenities, thus making, the last decades, rural tourism an important source of diversification of the rural economy, well integrated with farming activities. This may become an important opportunity for new Member States and candidate countries. The new European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) will provide support for:

  • Improving the quality of agricultural production and products;
  • Improving the environment and the countryside;
  • Encouraging tourist activities as part of the diversification of the rural economy objective;
  • Studies and investments associated with the maintenance, restoration and upgrading of the cultural heritage.

5. The European Fisheries Fund (EFF) introduces as a new priority theme for the period 2007-2013 "the sustainable development of fisheries areas". It aims to alleviate the socio-economic effects of the restructuring of the fisheries sector and to regenerate fisheries-dependent areas through diversification and the creation of employment alternatives. One of the areas to which fishermen may redirect their activities is eco-tourism. Small-scale fisheries and tourism infrastructure will also be supported through the EFF. The Fund also supports schemes for re-training in occupations, besides sea fishing, which may relate to tourism.

6. The 'Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme supports the competitiveness of EU enterprises and especially SMEs.

7. Research supported under the 7th EU Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration activities may result in benefits for the tourism sector as for example, research on information and communication technologies, satellite applications, cultural heritage and land use.

Source: European Commission

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