Tourism is a cross-sectional sector that directly intervenes into the areas of the economy, industry, trade and services, finance, transport, regional development, culture, health, education, sport, environmental protection, forestry and water management, agriculture, employment, creation of new jobs and the competences of self-governing authorities. While most other sectors deal with a relatively narrow segment of their functions along a vertical axis, tourism typically combines also different sectors on the horizontal axis. It therefore also includes many issues that can only be solved through the cooperation.
Tourism is an economic activity that is able to create growth and employment in the EU and to contribute to economic and social development and integration, particularly of rural and mountain areas, coastal regions, islands, peripheral and very remote regions. The European tourist industry, which takes in approximately 1.8 million enterprises, especially small and medium-sized, employing about 5.2% of the total labour force (representing 9.7 million jobs with a high share of young people) creates more than 5% of the GDP of the EU, and this percentage is growing. Tourism thus represents the third most extensive socio-economic activity in the EU, behind trade and distribution and the construction sector. Taking into account related industries, the contribution of tourism to GDP is even larger, if we take into account that it contributes to the creation of more than 10% of GDP of the European Union and approximately 12% of jobs. In this context, if we compare the development in the last ten years, the growth of employment in the tourist industry has always been more significant than in other economic sectors.
Based on prognoses of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a total number of 1.6 billion people all around the world should engage in foreign travel by the year 2020, and costs of these trips could achieve the level of USD 2 billion. Europe should maintain the highest share of visitors, but this is expected to decrease from the 60% achieved in 1995 to 46% in 2020. In 2020 Europe should register a total number of 717 million arrivals of visitors, which corresponds to an annual growth rate of 3%. UNWTO expects that tourism will see the fastest growth in the Central, East and South European regions until the year 2020, with Central and East Europe attracting 40 million more visitors than West Europe by the year 2020.
TOURISM IN SLOVAKIA
Tourism is one of the most dynamically developing sectors and in its outputs represents an economic industry, also in Slovakia. In the previous favourable years, foreign exchange income from tourism achieved an amount of EUR 1.8 bn. (SKK 54 bn.). More than 20 thousand entrepreneurs are engaged in tourism and Slovakia currently has approximately 2 500 accommodation establishments with more than 122 thousand beds, executing more than 10,3 mil. overnight stays. Participation in tourism is today a common part of the life of the population. Recreational establishment that are operated in both the summer and winter seasons have been built up in Slovakia.
Thanks to natural potential and the potential created by human activity, tourism can take a strategic position in the national economy and in the society. However the restructuring of the development of tourism must be implemented on the basis of a targeted programme that will allow optimal use of natural resources, built-up capacities, establishments and services provided there, taking into account the requirements for sustainable development.
In Slovakia tourism is not an integrated sector with inputs and outputs measurable in the national accounting system, as are agriculture, construction or industry. It is rather a conglomerate of the products and activities from many different sectors that participate in the activities of tourism. If tourism is to gain more weight in the national economy, its interests and objectives will have to be furthered more intensively in all sectoral policies.
Although the private sector plays the decisive role in the development of tourism, the public sector has to formulate strategies for its development and to define instruments for its implementation. The substance of state policy in tourism and the need for its new orientation are therefore important.
The following institutions and organisations are currently the main bearers of the decision-making processes in the formulation of state policy:
The Commission for Business Environment and Tourism of the Committee for Economy, Construction and Transport of the National Council of the Slovak Republic , the Government of the Slovak Republic , the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Regional Development of the Slovak Republic – Tourism Section, the Slovak Tourist Board, self-governing regions – units for tourism, regional and local tourism organisations.
Tourism fulfils several important economic functions in the national economy: it plays the role ofcreating an income and multiplication effect, is a source of the creation of value, influences the GDP and is a factor of employment, regional development and balance of payments.
The present reporting system does not provide a transparent evaluation of entrepreneurs in tourism. There is a leak of outputs in the area of transport, retail trade etc., where tourism participants account for significant amounts of revenues. For the purpose of quantification of its overall economic benefit for the country, this issue will be comprehensively addressed by the introduction of the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA).