A sector of great importance for local development
Tourism represents one of the most dynamic economic sectors in Europe. It is an important component of local economic development for certain territories, and is also associated with cultural themes like the creative industries, natural and cultural heritage, the arts and the media. In border regions, which represent 20% of European territory, cross-border tourism projects have a real impact on the growth of local economies. The improvement of tourism infrastructure contributes not only to job-creation in rural regions or regions in industrial decline, but also to attracting new investment. The mutualisation of resources, amenities, and tourist attractions at the cross-border level represents a real opportunity for local actors to promote the local economy and the attractiveness of the territory.
As the essence of a cross-border territory’s identity, the border itself can become a tourist attraction and be the starting point for a cross-border project idea. Examples include cross-border networks of fortifications like the "Greater Region network of fortified towns", between Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Germany, within which the notion of “border” is very present and the element that once constituted a barrier between the two countries has become the very focus of cooperation.
Tourism is a principal factor giving rise to meetings and interactions between populations, and this aspect takes on another dimension in a cross-border context: it is first of all a “social and cultural link” across the border between two populations. It contributes greatly to the reinforcement of cross-border cultural identity and the feeling of belonging between the population and the cross-border territory.