Inbound tourism in European countries - Statistics & Facts

As the world’s leading travel destination, Europe forms an essential part of the global tourism industry. The increasing ease and affordability of international travel has allowed the industry to grow, with international tourist arrivals almost doubling between 1995 and 2015. The European tourism market has a significant impact on the region’s economy and that of its countries. In total, international tourism spending is estimated to reach 471 billion euros in 2017 and is predicted to continue rising over the next ten years.

Inbound tourism refers to the travel activities of non-resident visitors to a particular region. As of 2015, the European countries with the highest number of inbound tourist arrivals were France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK. Some of the most visited European city destinations are also based in these countries, such as London, Paris and Rome. Although Western and Southern European countries include some of the most visited in Europe, forecasts for inbound visitor growth present a higher rate of growth in the Central/Eastern and Northern European regions.

France, as the leading destination for international tourism in Europe, received around 203 million visitors (including day visitors) in 2015. Its two main source travel markets are the UK and Germany. In 2016, international tourism spending in France dropped, with external factors such as incidents of terrorism cited by some sources as having an impact on foreign tourist numbers. However visitor spending is expected to recover in 2017.

International tourism receipts in Spain are higher than any other European country, including France. In 2016 international tourist spending in Spain valued around 59 billion euros and was estimated to reach 61.5 billion euros in 2017. Key source travel markets include the UK, France and Germany, each with over 100,000 tourists visiting Spain in the same year. Most tourists head to Catalonia, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, all popular destinations for vacation travel. Visitors to Barcelona in particular contribute to the growing number of tourists in Catalonia; the city is a top destination in Spain and Europe as a whole.

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