Europe: a transition pathway for tourism

Female legs wearing jeans and white sneakers.

Medical tourism needs to take on board the changing direction of European tourism.  A new European Commission report sets out a transition pathway for tourism and says countries should move away from just numbers in measuring the industry.

The European Commission has presented a transition pathway for tourism. The pathway is a plan detailing key actions, targets and conditions to achieve the green and digital transitions and long-term resilience of the sector.  It calls on the tourism community to implement measures in twenty-seven areas, including:

  • to invest in circularity to reduce energy, waste, water and pollution, and to better meet the increasing demand for sustainable tourism; and
  • to enhance data sharing practices to allow for new innovative tourism services and improve the sustainable management of destinations.

The pathway seeks to set the agenda for European tourism for the decade to come, and requires the involvement of all players in the sector for a successful green and digital transition.

The EC is calling on all Member States or their key tourism regions to have comprehensive tourism strategies by 2025.

The detailed 50-page report does not mention medical or health tourism.

The report wants to use new Key Performance Indicators to measure the impact of tourism and to move from mere statistics on overnight stays, to data on the social, environmental, and economic impacts of tourism.

The document also points out that the future success of the European Union travel industry will depend on its ability to meet consumer needs and demands for sustainable travel. The need to stop relying exclusively on the numbers of arrivals has been sanctioned, to avoid returning destinations on an irresponsible and uncontrolled growth path to over-tourism.

The need to follow the recommendations of the European Commission was reiterated at the annual meeting of the European Travel Commission in Switzerland. The national tourism authorities of European countries reconfirmed their agreement to help formulate and adopt new sustainable travel techniques.

Unless strategies for medical and health tourism work with the moves to sustainability and away from mass tourism, associations and businesses will find it very difficult to get political or financial support.