Action Plan

The European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) Action Plan (AP) is the basis for the actual implementation of the Strategy. It is a working document and is regularly updated, not only reflecting the progress made, but also necessary adaptations with respect to stakeholder responsibilities, thematic or political trends. The upcoming 2020 version is the result of intensive consultations at various stakeholder levels. In Policy Area Tourism, the current Action Plan reflects joint efforts of the Policy Area coordination team, the Steering Committee and DG Regio. It not only defines an overall objective, but also actions which contribute to achieving the overall objective.


Overall objective

PA Tourism's contribution to SDG achievement: The Establishment of the Baltic Sea Region as a sustainable tourism destination


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their link to tourism

In defining sustainable development, the overall and universally agreed reference is the global UN-Agenda 2030. Therefore, PA Tourism is guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Tourism can contribute directly or indirectly to the achievement of all 17 SDGs, due to its cross-cutting nature and global reach. For PA Tourism, the four most relevant SDGs are goal 8, 11, 12 and 14:

  • SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Tourism is one of the driving forces of global economic growth, and currently accounts for 1 in 10 jobs worldwide. By giving access to decent work opportunities in the tourism sector, society - particularly youth and women - can benefit from enhanced skills and professional development. The sector's contribution to job creation is recognized in target 8.9 "By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.
  • SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Sustainable tourism has the potential to advance rural infrastructure and universal accessibility, promote regeneration of areas in decay and strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage (target 11.4), assets on which tourism depends. Greater investment in green infrastructure (more efficient transport facilities, reduced air pollution, conservation of heritage sites and open spaces, etc.) should result in smarter and greener places, from which residents and so tourists, can benefit.
  • SDG 12: Ensure sustainable Consumption and Production patterns. A tourism sector that adopts sustainable consumption and production (SCP) practices can play a significant role in accelerating the global shift towards sustainability. To do so, as set in target 12.b it is imperative to "Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism which creates jobs, promotes local culture and products".
  • SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Coastal and maritime tourism, tourism's biggest segments, rely on healthy marine ecosystems. Tourism development must be a part of integrated Coastal Zone Management in order to help conserve and preserve fragile ecosystems and serve as a vehicle to promote the blue economy, in line with target 14.1 and 14.2: “prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds” and "sustainably manage marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans".

Action 1: Transnational tourism development in remote and rural areas

Sustainable Tourism development in remote areas (including outermost regions, disconnected cities, archipelagos and islands), taking into account the protection of the environment and eco-systems, not only helps to spread the benefits of tourism in terms of expenditure by tourists, it also helps to create employment, a well-functioning infrastructure, a good living environment, and other local support services as a result, which can help to slow down rural-urban migration in the BSR. This can help to create more resilient and sustainable communities, both in remote/rural areas and urban cities.

Supported fields of action:

  • Improving the accessibility, connectivity, visibility and the attractiveness of remote areas
  • Mitigating seasonal fluctuations and diminishing peaks and troughs in tourism demand by promoting all year round offers and more tailored products and services
  • Promoting sustainable consumption (referring to tourists and private consumption of tourism products and services, including travel/soft mobility)
  • Fostering sustainable production, including resource-efficiency (referring to tourism companies and establishments, green products and services)
  • Protecting biodiversity and developing visitor management

Action 2: Investing in people, skills and technology in the tourism industry

Training, modern labor markets, digital skills and technological innovation are not only key drivers for socio-economic development and sustainable growth but also more equitable and inclusive societies and for the well-being and personal fulfilment of its citizens. In order to work towards a sustainable future in the travel and tourism industry, the Baltic Sea Region needs to be prepared to enable new technologies and further invest in people’s skills, competences, and quality.

Supported fields of action:

  • Facing the challenges of the labor market
  • Improving relevant skills and competences in the BSR for employability, entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Promoting closer cooperations with educational, training, labor and research institutions in particular on a transnational, regional and bilateral level
  • Developing market research and trend studies as a basis for strategic decision making
  • Fostering the digital transformation of tourism SMEs and new technologies, which will enable the leap to new business models

Action 3: Protection and sustainable utilization of cultural heritage and natural resources in tourism destinations

Tourism has a unique reason to be concerned about the sustainability of the cultural and natural environment and thus the responsibility for its protection, owing to its dependency on the appeal of unspoilt landscapes and accessible local heritage. The idea of Action 3 is to encourage a green/authentic/sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism and to promote a kind of tourism that is respectful of local identities, host communities and cultural heritage in the BSR.
The development of specific “green/sustainable” touristic offers and products, and greater investment in green infrastructure (more efficient transport facilities, reduced air pollution, reduction of water, energy and waste, recycling of natural resources, conservation of heritage sites and open spaces, etc.) should result in smarter and greener places, from which residents and tourists, can benefit all year round.

Supported fields of action:

  • Improving the touristic infrastructure with regard to climate protection and sustainable mobility, accessibility and connectivity in an ecological way
  • Fostering sustainable destination management approaches
  • Controlling and monitoring tourism flows using digital tools to reduce negative impacts on nature, culture and local communities, taking active measures to protect the environment and combat climate change and looking for new opportunities which climate change might offer for the BSR
  • Respecting the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserving their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contributing to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance


The final Action Plan is going to be published as a Commission Staff Working document. The expected timetable for the formal adoption is targeted to be ready in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The complete version of the NC Group approved EUSBSR Action Plan can be found here.