Going for Growth

Tourism: One of Europe's 'most important industries'

Anmar Frangoul | Special to CNBC.com
Tourism is very beneficial for EU: Barroso
Tourism is very beneficial for EU: Barroso

The former president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, told CNBC on Wednesday that tourism was playing a key role in Europe's economic recovery.

Speaking at the World Travel and Tourism Council summit in Madrid, Barroso said the sector was, "one of the most important industries – you can consider around 10 percent of GDP in Europe being directly or indirectly linked to travel and tourism."

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Europe is the world's top tourist destination, "with the highest density and diversity of tourist attractions," according the website of the European Commission, the European Union's executive body.

"It's also a big source of employment… some of the countries most affected by the financial crisis, including Spain, Greece or my country, Portugal, have indeed now benefited from the very important inflow of tourism," Barroso added.

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How Spain's recovery is helping tourism
How Spain's recovery is helping tourism

European tourism employs 9.7 million people in 1.8 million businesses, according to the Commission.

The weak euro and low price of crude oil were key factors in boosting tourism, Barroso told CNBC.

"The current value of the euro and the cost of oil is becoming a very important driver for more progress in the tourism and travel sector," he said.

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The euro has continued to weaken against the dollar since the European Central Bank unveiled its 1 trillion euro ($1.1 trillion) quantitative easing program earlier this year.