Europe accounts for 50% of the world’s tourist arrivals and is the most visited region in the world, according to UNWTO.
As you will see from the data below, the continent is a hot spot for tourists. According to the 2019 European Union Tourism Trends Report, five out of the top ten visited destinations in the world are located in the EU. France comes out on top as the most popular tourist destination as it attracts 83 million tourists every year. European tourism has become a key driver of socio-economic progress, providing many jobs within the travel industry. The phenomenal culture, beautiful scenery and delicious food are some of the many reasons why tourists love visiting!
In 2018, there were 713 million international arrivals, this has increased from 670 million in 2017.
83 million tourists visit France every year and it is the leading tourist destination in the world.
It is expected that there will be a 3.5 % rise in international tourists in 2019.
The continent contributed €782 billion in 2018 and 14.4 million jobs.
By 2025 Britain’s travel industry is set to be worth over £257 billion.
Every year, EU residents take more than a billion vacation trips.
Italy, Spain, France and England accounted for 55% of EU travel.
35% of the world’s global tourism expenditure is generated from the EU.
Half of the world’s outbound tourism is generated from Europe.
Residents of the European Union took 1.2 billion trips.
It accounts for 50% of the world’s tourist arrivals and 37% of global tourism receipts, it is the most visited region in the world.
538 million global tourists arrived in the last year, this accounts for 50% of the world’s total.
Global visitors to EU destinations are expected to increase by 1.9% (9 million) a year through to 2030.
139 million inbound arrivals to destinations within the EU are from outside of European countries.
There were 710 million global visitors in 2018, this is a 5.5% increase from 2017.
The 28 countries that are in the EU account for 81% of international visitors.
15.7 million U.S. tourists crossed the Atlantic in 2017, a 16% increase from the previous year.
Top 10 most visited European countries
The most visited country in Europe is France. Now let's look at the top countries to travel to, ranked by places tourists visited the most in the last 12 months.
France – 86.9 million visitors
Spain – 81.8 million visitors
Italy – 58.3 million visitors
United Kingdom – 37.7 million visitors
Turkey – 37.6 million visitors
Germany – 37.5 million visitors
Austria – 29.5 million visitors
Greece – 27.2 million visitors
Russia – 24.4 million visitors
Portugal – 21.2 million visitors
What is the least visited country in Europe?
San Marino takes in 60,000 visitors a year. This makes San Marino the least visited country in Europe.
Liechtenstein is the second least visited country and attracts 69,000 tourists a year.
Moldova is located between Romania and the Ukraine and welcomes 121,000 visitors a year.
This industry is at an all-time high, 538 million global tourists arrived in the EU last year! Tourism in Europe statistics demonstrates that it is very popular amongst tourists, it is the most visited region in the world and accounts for 50% of international visitors.
The least visited country is San Marino, it often gets overlooked by tourists because of its size as it is the fifth smallest country in the world. Liechtenstein is the second least visited country in Europe. It is situated in the Alps and is only 62 square miles, but it is the perfect uncrowded skiing location and has a beautiful Alpine landscape. Moldova is also one of the least visited countries, it boasts an immense history and is a fantastic location if you want a cheap weekend escape.
France, the UK, Italy, Spain, and Germany are the most visited countries in Europe and in the top ten outbound market locations in the World.
Lithuania’s tourism has increased, they have recorded four times more overnight stays in 2017 than 2009.
In 2017, non-residents spent 305,907,463 nights in Spain.
Southern Europe is the most visited group within the EU receiving 193 million arrivals. This is then followed by Western Europe (171 million), Northern Europe (66 million) and Central and Eastern Europe (70 million).
Top EU destinations for travellers from abroad
Canary Islands, ES
Adriatic Croatia, HR
Balearic Islands, ES
Île de France, FR
West inner London, UK
East inner London, UK
Nights spent by non-residents (million)
International Tourist Arrivals (2018) Millions
France Tourism Statistics - How many tourists visit France each year?
France is the number one tourist destination in the world in terms of arrivals.
In 2018 there were 89.4 million tourist arrivals in France.
77.7 billion euros were contributed by France to GDP.
30% came from international visitors and 70% from domestic tourism spending.
UK Tourism Statistics – how many tourists visit the UK each year?
In 2018, the UK welcomed 36.3 million tourist arrivals.
Over 40 million tourists visited the UK in 2018 which makes this 6th biggest tourist destination.
The UK has the most trips by EU citizens within their own country. 476,356,100 nights were spent in tourist accommodation.
The number of nights spent at tourist accommodation in the EU has increased after a slight drop caused by the economic crisis. The top five EU countries for visitors are France, the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.
France is the number one tourist destination in the world and the most popular tourist destination in the EU with 89.4 million tourists arriving in France last year. France has 37 sites listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, as it is recognised to have cities and sites with high cultural interest. The beaches, scenery, food, art and culture make France the perfect location for many tourists. Spain is a top destination and closely follows France, having 82.8 million international arrivals in 2018.
The Channel Islands are also popular tourist destinations. The total visits to Jersey in 2019 (including Jersey short breaks, day trips and overnight visits) increased by 6% year on year, with 770,700 visits. 50% of Jersey holiday makers were visiting for the first time, which is slightly higher than 48% in 2018.
It is also evident from this data that those who live in the UK enjoy travelling within their own country. 48% of people in the UK took a city break in the last 12 months, making city breaks the nation’s favourite holiday.
31% of tourism receipts are accounted for by the EU.
Tourism and travel spending grew 3.9% in 2018, in comparison to the global economic growth of 3.2%.
The tourism industry accounts for 3.8% of the total turnover.
This industry contributed 782 billion euros to GDP in 2018 for the EU economy.
Tourism Revenue by Country
Millions (US $)
How much revenue does tourism generate in Europe? The industry contributed 782 billion euros to GDP in 2018 for the EU economy. It is the third-largest socio-economic activity in the EU and a significant contributor to the EU’s GDP and employment. France provides the largest revenue for international tourist receipts with 69,894.00 million (US $).
Malta is the number one country in Europe that is most reliant on tourism, as 14.2% of its GDP comes from this industry. This is followed by Montenegro (11%), Croatia (10.9%) and Georgia (9.3%). These countries rely massively on the revenue that tourists provide and subsequently tourism revenue has a huge economic impact on their countries.
608,000 accommodation establishments over the last few years are in EU destinations. There is a total capacity of 31 million bed-places, 44% of which are hotels.
3.1 billion nights are spent in EU accommodation establishments by 1 billion guests.
4.5 million more nights were spent in accommodation in the European Union in December 2018 compared to the previous year (+3.0%).
There has been an 8% increase in camping.
The highest proportion of nights spent in campsites were in Denmark (33%), Luxembourg (32%) and France (29%).
Airbnb’s top city in the EU is London, there were over 77,000 listings in March 2019.
33% of accommodation in the EU are concentrated in France and Italy.
1.2 billion trips were made by EU residents and 6 billion nights spent.
Accommodation statistics demonstrate that there has been an increase in popularity when it comes to camping. Visitors spent 397 million nights in the EU campsites in 2017 which accounts for 12% of nights spent in visitor accommodation within the EU.
Airbnb statistics demonstrate that by 2020, there will be 24 million Airbnb users in the EU. The popular online marketplace has found that London is their top city in the EU for listings, as over 77,000 homes were listed this year. Staying in Airbnb’s has become increasingly popular because it is a cheaper and more effective way of staying in the EU. It gives you the chance to experience culture whilst staying in a convenient location and living like a local.
Even with the popularity increase in camping and Airbnb’s, hotels are still the most popular accommodation for tourists as 44% of 31 million bed-places are hotels.
61% of arrivals into the EU were taken for leisure, recreation and holiday purposes.
9.7% of France’s gross domestic product comes from tourism. 30% of this is contributed by foreign tourists and 70% comes from domestic tourism.
1,140 billion U.S dollars was spent on European tourism in 2018.
1,292.5 billion U.S dollars was spent on travel to Europe.
368.2 billion U.S dollars was spent on business travel in 2017.
62% of EU residents made at least one personal trip in 2017.
15% of international tourists in the EU travelled for business, whereas 24% travelled for other reasons such as visiting relatives and friends, health reasons, religious reasons and pilgrimages.
Why travel to Europe? The continent is unique because each country offers something completely different, making the continent very appealing for international tourists. Whether traveling to the romanticized city of Paris or the historic city of Venice.
This is demonstrated by the above data, as 61% of arrivals were made for leisure, recreation and holiday purposes. According to Forbes, the top 5 best destinations for 2019 are Budapest (Hungary), Braga (Portugal), Monte Isola (Italy), Metz (France) and Poznan (Poland).
Why is tourism so popular in Europe? Countries in the EU can be easily accessed, you can travel from one popular city to the next in just a few hours. It is quick and easy to explore and travel through whilst catering to various holidaymakers' needs.
26 million jobs within the EU are created by this industry.
Enterprises in industries that have tourism-related activities accounted for 9.2% of people employed in the whole non-financial business economy and 21.5% of people employed in the services sector.
How does the travel industry help with employment? It has helped to provide 26 million jobs for the EU and has contributed massively to the country’s GDP. The travel industry has helped sustain a large number of jobs and it has been found to contribute to one in ten jobs globally. Accommodation, travel agencies/tour operators and air transport are the three industries that rely almost entirely on tourism.
The travel industry helps produce a large number of jobs, specifically for young people and contributes immensely to the reduction of youth unemployment.