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Last Updated: Monday, 19 July, 2004, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
New EU 10 may get tourist boost
Prague's historic centre
Prague remains one of Europe's most popular cities
The European Union's 10 newest members may receive a huge economic boost by maximising their appeal to tourists.

The nations, which joined the EU on 1May, could earn 46bn euro (31bn; $57bn) by 2010 if they attract more visitors, an industry report has said.

Poland and Hungary are set to be the main beneficiaries, with the potential to create more than 2 million jobs between them during the next six years.

The EU earned 1.1 trillion euros from tourism last year, 8% of its total GDP.

Dramatic benefits

According to a new report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the 'gang of ten' countries could enjoy dramatic economic benefits by investing in tourism related infrastructure and technology.

By 2010, as many as 3 million tourism-related jobs could be created across Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, the respected tourism organisation has claimed.

Tourism could also act as a much-needed catalyst, boosting the economies of countries such as Poland and Hungary where traditional industries such as manufacturing and agriculture have collapsed.

Tourism revenues

According to its forecasts, the Council says that the 10 new EU members only need to meet their current economic growth forecasts between 2005 and 2010 to generate the 46bn euros forecast in total tourism-related benefits.

Hungary and Poland, alone, could generate 19bn euros each in revenues over that period if they match the EU's growth rate.

Jean-Claude Baumgarten, president of the WTTC, said tourism could help to "jumpstart" economic growth in many countries in eastern Europe.

Entrepreneurial activity

"The new member states bring with them a wealth of new resources particularly in terms of their rich cultural heritage, their landscapes and natural reserves," he said.

Ayia Napa, Cyprus
Tourism accounts for nearly 25% of Cyprus' GDP

"They also bring new energy - the catalyst for a new degree of entrepreneurial activity."

However, Mr Baumgarten warned member governments and EU institutions that they must recognise tourism's value or risk losing the potential benefits.

Government bodies must work with the private sector to promote cross-border investment, improve skills training and sustain the natural environment.

He added: "The EU can show a new approach to international relations, welcoming countries not just with speeches and vague promises but with operational plans to assist their development".

Country profile: Czech Republic
13 Jul 04  |  Country profiles
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29 Apr 04  |  Northern Ireland
Slovakia's big leap forward
27 Apr 04  |  Europe

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