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Many of Europe's leading holiday destinations could see travel and tourism growth held back by inadequate investment in infrastructure, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned.
WTTC research suggests some countries hit hardest by recession could be most affected, including Greece, Spain and Portugal.
The WTTC study, 'European Travel and Tourism: Where are the greatest current and future investment needs' examined the infrastructure quality, capacity and long-term planning in 41 European countries up to 2025.
The report was released at the WTTC Global Summit in Madrid.
It notes forecast investment of €2.1 trillion over the next decade, but concludes: "The growth of the sector in many countries is threatened by poor existing infrastructure quality or capacity or inadequate future investment."
The WTTC finds the UK, Germany and Austria "well-placed" to meet rising demand due to a "high existing quality and capacity of travel and tourism infrastructure, which they are expected to maintain".
The study identifies France, Italy, Greece, Switzerland and Ireland as also well-placed "but with key risks", warning: "Their strong positions are likely to deteriorate over the next decade since demand is forecast to outstrip travel and tourism investment growth."
A third category "at medium or high risk" includes Croatia, with the WTTC warning: "Travel and tourism investment growth is expected to lag behind demand growth over the next decade."
WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill said: “Travel & Tourism is one of Europe’s great sectors – it creates wealth and supports jobs and is a key to recovery for those countries hardest hit by recession and the Eurozone crisis.
“However, the potential of our sector to create jobs, financial security and economic wealth can only be met with sufficient and effective investment to support this demand.
"Our research paints a picture of some countries much better placed than others to capitalise on forecast demand."
Scowsill highlighted a need for greater collaboration between public and private bodies and said: "Breaking down barriers to infrastructure development through the right business, political and regulatory frameworks will help ensure travel and tourism in Europe maintains a strong competitive position.”
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