Travel and tourism in Europe - Statistics & Facts

Europe is the global leader in international tourism, with over 600 million foreign tourists arriving in the region each year. The rate of growth accelerated in the 2010s, as many countries became more mobile. Besides intra-European tourism, the United States and China are two key markets that have contributed to the growth in arrivals. Although a welcome development, the increase in visitor numbers has brought its own challenges, as many destinations look to find sustainable ways to cope with the high intensity of tourists. Regardless, the travel and tourism sector has had a positive impact on the European economy, directly contributing an estimated 782 billion euros to GDP in 2018.

The number of international tourists arriving in Europe has steadily increased since the nineties, reaching over 672 million arrivals by 2018. The southern/Mediterranean region of Europe is the most popular destination region in terms of international arrivals, followed by Western Europe. However, forecasts for inbound visitor numbers suggest that growth in Central and Eastern European nations will be stronger than other regions in 2020 and 2021.

France and Spain are two of the leading travel destinations in Europe. Both countries also led in the 2019 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index, meaning their policies on tourism and sustainable development enable them to effectively compete in the industry.

Participation of EU residents in tourism is also high for both domestic and outbound tourism. Residents of Germany, France, and Spain took the highest number of vacations in 2018 compared to other EU nations. Expenditure on and during such leisure trips tended to be higher when taken abroad, although for some countries like Spain, residents spent more on vacations within their own country.

According to Statista’s Mobility Market Outlook, revenues across all travel and tourism segments in Europe had been expected to grow at the start of 2020. However the true impact of the coronavirus outbreak, which hit Europe in February 2020, remains to be seen. Jobs are already forecasted to be affected, and it is likely that revenues will also be impacted.

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Travel and tourism in Europe

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EU residents' travel

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