Nov. 07 - The EU's new tourism chief has unveiled a strategy to market Europe as a whole and regain its market share of international travellers, as it fights off competition from other destinations and the effects of the euro zone debt crisis. Joanna Partridge reports
This is the Greece most foreigners have seen in recent years - not its historic sites or pristine beaches But as another general strike crippled Athens, Greece tried to remind the world of its merits at the World Travel Market in London. Europe's economic woes and the social unrest they create have dented the continent's popularity. The EU is still the world's top tourist destination, but it's losing market share. Eduardo Santander is trying to reverse that - he's the EU's new tourism chief and he's trying to promote Europe collectively as well as on a national level. SOUNDBITE: Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission, saying (English): "Euro crisis is playing a role but we see that tourism could be an engine again for the European economy, I may remind that 10% of European GDP is related to tourism directly or indirectly." Europe's market share of international travellers fell to 51% in 2011, from 60% in 1990. The debt crisis isn't the only reason. It's also losing out to cheaper competitors like Asia and Latin America. PTC Brazil hopes that hosting the football World Cup and the Olympic Games will give it a chance to welcome more first time visitors. But with its fast growing middle class, Europe also wants to entice more Brazilians to come over here. Europe is concentrating on wooing visitors from 4 countries - the US, Canada, Brazil and China. It wants them to realise they can get a lot of bang for their buck. SOUNDBITE: Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission, saying (English): "Europe is not as expensive as people think. It's dependent on what you want to do in Europe. Asia could be very, very expensive as well, it depends on your activities and your interests. I think there is a place in Europe for every pocket." Tourists have traditionally travelled to Europe for history and culture. The EU hopes marketing itself as a complete destination will also keep jobs and revenue flowing in at a time when the economy really needs it.