European tourism "to double by 2020"

World Tourism Organisation warns of "urgent need" to respect sustainable development principles

A forecast boom in European tourism means there is "now an urgent need to respect the principles of sustainable development," the head of the intergovernmental World Tourism Organisation (WTO) said this week. Francesco Frangialli was commenting on a study predicting a doubling in European tourism over the next 20 years to 717m. The report predicts particularly strong growth in central and eastern Europe, which it says will overtake western Europe as "the world's favourite destination" by 2020.

Speaking at the ITB global tourism trade fair in Berlin, which ended yesterday, Mr Frangialli warned that the boom "will create millions of new jobs, but will also put tourism sites and infrastructure under great pressure". The European Environment Agency last year cited tourism as a principal "barrier" to the achievement of sustainable development (ENDS Daily 24 June 1999).

During the fair, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched an initiative to improve tour operators' environmental performance. Meanwhile, Austrian-based NGO network Friends of Nature International last week called on the EU to produce annual sustainability reports on tourism in Europe and to develop a sustainable tourism strategy. The European Commission set up a working group on sustainable tourism last year.

Follow Up:
ITB, tel: +49 30 30 38 21 29; World Tourism Organisation, tel: +34 91 567 8100, and WTO European tourism forecast; UNEP tourism page, tel: +33 1 44 37 14 50; Friends of Nature International, tel: +43 1 892 3877.

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