It’s no secret that Europe is home to some of the most popular places to visit in the world. With fascinating history, diverse cultures, and gorgeous natural sceneries, there is something to suit every type of tourist.
According to the UN, there are 44 countries in Europe with 27 of them listed as part of the European Union.
That’s a lot of places to explore and get lost in!
France was the most visited destination in Europe as it saw over 89.4 million global tourist arrivals in 2019.
Meanwhile, Paris welcomed 16.8 million international tourists in 2018. It’s second in Europe only to London.
Today, we’re here to present some of the most interesting and crucial statistics about travel and tourism in Europe. From how much revenue this industry generates each year to the impact that recent pandemic had.
Here they are!
Sources: I’ve referenced individual sources after each stat. Please go to the bottom of the post for a full list of all the articles and sources I’ve used here.
Most asked questions about Europe travel & tourism
How many tourists visit Europe each year?
In 2019, Europe recorded 745 million international tourist arrivals.
Roughly 4 in 10 baby boomers state that Europe is their first choice for international travel.
How much of Europe’s economy is tourism?
In 2021, travel and tourism contributed $1,450 billion to the overall GDP in Europe.
Which country in Europe has the most tourism?
With 89.4 million international tourist arrivals in 2019, France is the most popular place to visit in Europe.
What percentage of Europeans travel?
In 2019, 65% of all EU residents went on one or more personal tourism trips.
What’s the least visited country in Europe?
According to Eurostat, Luxembourg was the least visited country in Europe by EU residents in 2019.
Europe Travel & Tourism Key Statistics
- Europe at large (both EU and non-EU) remains the most visited region in the world, accounting for 50% of the world’s tourist arrivals
- In 2019, there were 682 million domestic arrivals in EU countries
- 61% of all international arrivals to the EU in 61% were for recreational purposes
- Travel and tourism provided 38.5 million jobs in Europe in 2019
- In 2017, there were more female (59%) than male employees in the tourism industry
- In 2019, there were 717 thousand travel accommodation establishments in EU countries, which is a 69% increase from 2006
- In 2019, EU residents made 1.1 billion trips that included overnight stays
- Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, international arrivals in Europe plummeted from over 746 million in 2019 to just about 236 million in 2020
Inbound tourism in Europe
How many tourists visit Europe annually?
1. In 2019, Europe recorded 745 million international tourist arrivals.
Europe receives the highest number of international arrivals compared to other regions, including Americas, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa.
2. 6 of the top 10 most visited destinations by international tourist arrivals worldwide are located in Europe.
This includes France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Germany, and the United Kingdom in that order.
3. There were 36.4 million outbound trips from the US to Europe in 2019.
In 2019, there were 36.4 million trips from the US to Europe.
4. About 33% of these trips from the US were made to destinations in Western Europe.
11.9 million, or 33%, of these trips were to Western Europe. Central or Eastern Europe received the least number of outbound trips from the US at 4.3 million arrivals in 2019.
5. Europe at large (both EU and non-EU) remains the most visited region in the world, accounting for 50% of the world’s tourist arrivals.
Domestic tourism in Europe
How popular is Europe among domestic tourists?
6. In 2019, there were 682 million domestic arrivals in EU countries.
Domestic tourism continues to be more popular as this number steadily grows from only 491 million in 2008 to 682 million in 2019.
7. There were 187 million overnight trips in Europe made by French residents in 2019 alone.
Out of all EU countries, French residents have been the most active in domestic tourism in Europe.
8. Germany is close behind as its residents made roughly 161 million domestic trips in 2019.
Domestic trips include both personal and professional purposes.
Europe tourism and the economy
How much revenue does Europe’s tourism generate?
9. In 2021, travel and tourism contributed $1,450 billion to the overall GDP in Europe.
From 2012 to 2019, the travel industry has steadily contributed an increasing amount of GDP in Europe, peaking at $2,191 billion in 2019.
10. Domestic tourism expenditure reached a record high of $1,222 billion in 2019.
Domestic travellers are important in Europe’s tourism industry as they spent $1,222 billion in 2019 alone, which is the highest number in recent recorded history.
11. In 2019, Spain was the second top tourism earner after the US, recording $79.7 billion in international tourism receipts.
Spain is the second country in the world that makes the most money from tourism. It recorded $79.7 billion in international tourism receipts in 2019.
12. France follows closely behind making $63.8 in international tourism receipts.
Why people travel to Europe
What motivates people to visit Europe?
13. 61% of all international arrivals to the EU in are for recreational purposes.
Holiday, recreation, and other leisure-related purposes are the most common reason for visiting Europe.
14. In the meantime, 15% visited EU countries for business reasons and 24% came to visit friends and relatives or other purposes.
Business travel makes up 15% of all visits to the EU.
15. Most international visitors arrive in Europe by air travel (57%), compared to 40% for land transport and only 4% by water.
Over half of all global visitors to Europe come through flights, while 2 out of 5 visitors arrive by land transport. Only 4% travel by water to Europe.
16. 62% of all residents in the EU went on a minimum of one personal trip in 2017.
In terms of domestic tourism in Europe, 3 out of every 5 EU residents took at least one personal trip back in 2017.
17. 11% of domestic trips to Europe in 2015 were for professional purposes, including business trips.
11% of all domestic trips in Europe in 2015 were made for professional reasons, such as business trips.
Tourism employment in Europe
How large is Europe’s tourism workforce?
18. In 2020, the tourism industry generated, directly and indirectly, 35 million jobs.
There was a 9% decrease in tourism jobs in 2020 compared to the previous due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
19. Travel and tourism provided 38.5 million jobs in Europe in 2019.
20. In 2017, there were more female (59%) than male employees in the tourism industry.
This industry has long been a major employer for women, especially considering that only 36% of employees in non-financial business economies in Europe were female.
21. The tourism labour force also tends to attract younger workers aged 15 to 24 (13%) and part-time positions (24%).
These statistics are much higher than those in the non-financial business economies and services sectors as a whole.
Popular tourist destinations in Europe
What are the most popular tourist destinations in Europe?
22. With 89.4 million international tourist arrivals in 2019, France remains the most popular travel destination in Europe.
France, Spain (83.5 million), and Italy (64.5 million) recorded the most international tourist arrivals in 2019. The ranking changed slightly in 2020, with Italy receiving more international tourists than Spain.
Moreover, European travellers comprise 39.3% of the total tourist arrivals in Venice.
23. The capital city, Paris, welcomed more than 16.8 million international visitors in 2018, making it the second most visited European city after London.
24. In terms of bed nights, Spain is the most popular among international tourists, with 299 million nights spent in tourist accommodations in 2019 alone.
This number accounts to 22% of the total nights spent in tourist accommodations in Europe.
25. After Spain, Italy is the second most popular tourist destination for overnight stays in Europe. There were 221 million nights spent here in 2019.
When it comes to cities in Europe with the most overnight stays in 2019, Italy sits on the second place.
26. This is followed by France (136 million nights) and Greece (120 million nights).
27. All together, Spain, Italy, France, and Greece dominate 57% of the total nights spent by international tourists in European tourist accommodations.
Spain, Italy, France, and Greece are the four most popular tourist destinations in Europe in terms of night spent in a tourist accommodation.
In fact, travellers from Europe make up the majority of overseas tourist arrivals in Rome (2.78 million).
28. Meanwhile, the least popular EU destinations for tourists in 2019 were Luxembourg, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Accommodation in Europe’s travel industry
Where do tourists usually stay when visiting Europe?
29. In 2019, there were 717 thousand travel accommodation establishments in EU countries, which is a 69% increase from 2006.
The 717 thousand travel accommodations include RV campgrounds, hotels, short-stay accommodation, and trailer parks.
30. A majority of these (more than 479 thousand) were holiday and other short-stay accommodations, while 209 thousand were hotels and similar accommodation types.
The most common type of tourist accommodation in Europe is holiday/ short-stay vacation rentals.
31. In 2019, it was estimated that residents and international visitors spent a total of 3.42 billion nights in EU travel accommodation.
In 2019 alone, tourists in EU countries spent a total of 3.42 billion nights in accommodation establishments.
For budget travel, Kyiv is the cheapest city destination for backpacking, with daily costs amounting to an average of $37.69.
32. In 2019, Italy recorded just shy of 1.1 million bedrooms in hotels and similar accommodation. This is the highest in any country in Europe.
At 1.1 million individual hotel and similar rooms, Italy is the country in Europe with the highest number of bedrooms.
33. Germany and Spain are close behind with 993 and 934 million bedrooms respectively.
34. In terms of occupancy rate of bed places in hotels and other similar accommodation in EU countries, Cyprus leads the chart with 71.8% of net occupancy rate.
Hotels and similar accommodation types in Cyprus recorded an astounding 71.8% net occupancy rate, the highest in any one country in EU countries.
35. Interestingly, despite having the second most hotel bedrooms in Europe, Germany had a pretty low occupancy rate of 45.7% in 2019.
36. In 2021, Europe became the region with the highest glamping market worldwide, with 35.11% of market share.
[Grand Review Research]
Glamping is an up-and-coming industry and Europe seems to be the leading world region in terms of market share (35.11%).
Outbound tourism by Europeans
How many European tourists go on a trip each year?
37. Almost two out of every three Europeans went on a tourism trip in 2019.
38. Around 75% of these trips were made within their own country.
3 in every 4 trips made by EU residents in 2019 were to destinations within their own country, which shows the popularity of domestic tourism among Europeans.
39. In terms of night spent, Spain and Italy were the most popular destinations for European tourists.
The most popular destinations for tourists from Europe are Spain and Italy, where they spent the highest number of nights in 2019.
40. For non-EU destinations, the United Kingdom, Turkey and the USA had been the top choices.
41. EU residents spent an average of €421 per trip in 2019.
The average EU resident would spend €421 per trip.
42. In 2019, EU residents made 1.1 billion trips that included overnight stays.
EU residents went on a total of 1.1 billion trips which included overnight stays to both domestic and international locations in 2019 alone.
43. The contribution of travel and tourism to Europe’s GDP fell significantly in 2020, from $2,191 billion, to roughly 50% of the number in 2019.
The average European solo traveler spends €285 for their flight and hotel.
Covid-19 and Europe’s tourism
How has the pandemic affected travel & tourism in Europe?
44. The contribution of travel and tourism to Europe’s GDP fell significantly in 2020, from $2,191 billion, to roughly 50% of the number in 2019.
Due to the recent pandemic, the total contribution from the travel and tourism industry to GDP in Europe decreased dramatically in 2020 from 2019.
45. Domestic tourism also fell from $1,167 billion in 2019 to $668 billion in 2020.
Domestic tourism expenditure in Europe decreased by roughly 43 percent in 2020 over the previous year, due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
46. International arrivals in Europe plummeted from over 746 million in 2019 to just about 236 million in 2020.
47. The number of international tourist arrivals dropped by 97% in April 2020 compared to April 2019.
Travel to and from countries was restricted as the virus spread, resulting in a sharp drop in arrivals across the region.
48. In May 2021, international tourist arrivals have more than quadrupled since the same month in 2020.
However, this figure of 12.1 million arrivals is still much below the 64.2 million from May 2019.
As home to some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, it will not be a surprise if tourism in this region only grows from now on.
While the recent Coronavirus pandemic has caused some major setbacks in terms of GDP and tourist arrivals in these countries, it does seem that things are looking brighter.
Once the world has recovered even more from this trying time, we believe that people looking for a getaway will look to visit various European destinations. As such, the number of domestic and international visitors will surely rise again soon.
We hope this post is thorough enough for you to learn more about tourism in Europe.
Can you think of other questions or aspects of Europe’s travel and tourism that we haven’t covered? Feel free to comment below!
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published 2023-10-10 12:19:18