Outbound tourism in European countries - Statistics & Facts

European outbound tourism is a key component of the travel industry in Europe and an important market for tourist destinations worldwide. Approximately 26 percent of the EU population participates in tourism outside their home country at least once each year, reflecting many Europeans’ appetite for international travel. In 2017, spending on outbound travel in Europe is predicted to value 450 billion euros and to continue increasing over the next ten years.

Growth in the number of outbound visitors from Europe is expected to remain positive in 2017 and 2018. Although Western European countries rank among the highest for leading international departures from Europe, outbound tourism from developing markets in Central and Eastern Europe are forecast to grow at a higher rate over the same period.

In total an estimated 278 million international departures were made from countries within the European Union in 2015. Germany ranks as the biggest European market for outbound travel, with German travelers taking a total of 83.7 million trips abroad in 2015. Leading holiday destinations of German travelers include Spain and the Baltic Sea.

The United Kingdom is another major market for international travel. The number of visits abroad by UK travelers grew by over five million in 2016 to 70.8 million visits. UK outbound travel spending paralleled this growth, increasing to 43.8 billion British pounds in the same year. Spain also leads as the most visited country by UK residents, followed by France and Italy.

For vacation travel abroad, Europeans tend to travel most frequently within Europe. In 2015, over a third of EU travelers spent their holiday in another EU country compared to 15 percent who spent it outside the EU-28. Spain, Italy and France are the leading outbound destinations for European travelers, with the three countries ranking as the most popular destinations for vacation travel in 2016.

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