Travel and tourism in Europe - Statistics & Facts

Travel and tourism activities define a major industry in Europe. As a worldwide leader in international tourism, Europe plays a vital role in the economic impact of the global travel industry. For the European economy alone, travel and tourism directly contributed 624.3 billion euros to GDP in 2016 and 2.28 million jobs through direct employment in the sector.


The number of international tourists arriving in Europe has been steadily increasing since the nineties, reaching over 600 million arrivals by 2015. 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 between 2016 and 2018.

France and Spain are two of the leading travel destinations in Europe, with France receiving 84.4 million arrivals in 2015. Both countries also lead in the 2017 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index, meaning their policies on tourism and sustainable development enable them to effectively compete in the industry.

Although EU residents participate in tourism in other European countries and destinations around the world, domestic tourism is also an important sector of the European travel market; 23 percent of EU residents only traveled domestically in 2015, compared to 15 percent taking only outbound trips. In total, overnight domestic trips in European Union member states totaled 880 million in the same year.

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