Tourism statistics - intra-EU tourism flows
- Data extracted in June 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: June 2016.
Three types of tourism flows can be distinguished: domestic tourism (persons making tourism trips within their country of residence), outbound tourism and inbound tourism. Until recently, the main source for European statistics on inbound tourism was statistics on arrivals and nights spent by non-residents at tourist accommodation establishments.
This article re-uses existing information on outbound trips made by residents of the EU to estimate inbound tourism flows within the EU. The methodological approach is based on the simple fact that an outbound flow for one country represents an inbound flow for the country visited. When all outbound trips made by Europeans with as their main destination a given country are combined, an estimate of the intra-EU inbound tourism flows into this country can be obtained. The aim of this last article in the online publication Tourism trips of Europeans is mainly to briefly outline the potential offered by using partner countries' data to produce previously unavailable information, rather than to draw a comprehensive picture of inbound tourism.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 1.1 Europeans stay on average one week when visiting other EU countries
- 1.2 The average expenditure on trips to another EU country was EUR 587
- 1.3 For trips abroad but within the EU, airplane was the most common means of transport
- 1.4 Three out of four trips were spent at rented tourist accommodation facilities
- 1.5 August was the most popular month for trips to other EU countries
- 1.6 City tourism was one of the attractions for 9 out of 10 trips of Europeans to Estonia
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
Main statistical findings
Europeans stay on average one week when visiting other EU countries
In 2013, tourism trips made by EU residents to another EU Member State as a destination had an average duration of one week (7.1 nights), ranging from just under three nights for trips to Estonia to nearly 12 nights for trips to Cyprus (11.9) (see Figure 1).
These differences across Europe are often correlated with the accessibility in terms of transport and the proximity of the main generating markets. For instance, the relative price (and distance) to reach Cyprus will motivate tourists to stay relatively long, while the proximity and accessibility (short ferry ride) of Estonia to its main generating market (Finland) will make short breaks of a few days the more likely way of visiting this Baltic country.
The average expenditure on trips to another EU country was EUR 587
Inbound visitors coming from other EU Member States spent on average EUR 587 (see Figure 2), ranging from EUR 213 in Slovakia (a country with many short trips – see also Figure 1 – by tourists from neighboring countries) to EUR 916 in Greece and EUR 877 in Cyprus (both destinations with relative long stays, on average 10.1 nights and 11.9 nights respectively and with a prevalence of air travel to reach the country, 87 % and 91 % of trips respectively).
Per night, visitors from the EU to other EU countries spent on average EUR 82 (see Figure 3), ranging from EUR 44 in Slovakia to EUR 156 in Estonia (the country with the shortest average length of stay – 2.9 nights – mainly by tourists from nearby Finland).
For trips abroad but within the EU, airplane was the most common means of transport
Residents of the EU made 214 million tourism trips of at least one overnight stay to destinations in another EU Member State in 2014. For 45 % of those trips, air transport was the main means of transport (see Table 1), followed by (rented or private) motor vehicles (36 %). Bus (7 %), train (6 %) and transport using waterways (5 %) were far less significant.
When looking at the countries visited, air transport accounted for more than 80 % of all intra-EU inbound flows into Malta (94 %), Cyprus (91 %), Greece (87 %) and Spain (82 %).
In five countries, the share of inbound trips made by motor vehicle was 65 % or more (Austria, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Croatia).
Only in one country, Estonia, was waterway the dominant means of transport for inbound visitors (most likely because of the popular ferry connection between Tallinn and the Finnish capital Helsinki).
Railway was relatively significant for visitors to Belgium (22 % of intra-EU inbound trips) and France (16 %) while buses were relatively significant for Latvia and Lithuania (both 17 %), Poland (16 %), Czech Republic (15 %) and Croatia (14 %).
Three out of four trips were spent at rented tourist accommodation facilities
In 2013, 78 % of all inbound trips in the EU made by residents from other EU countries had a tourist accommodation establishment as the only or main means of accommodation, mainly hotels or similar establishments (57 %) . Own holiday homes accounted for around 3 % and accommodation provided for free by friends or relatives for 18 %.
Across the EU, the importance of rented and non-rented accommodation for inbound visitors was very different with the share of rented accommodation ranging from 87 % in Greece and Estonia, to 38 % in Romania (see Figure 4).
August was the most popular month for trips to other EU countries
Looking at the breakdown by month of departure of trips, July (12.5 %) and August (13.3 %) accounted for more than one out of four trips, while January represented 4.3 % of intra-EU trips in 2013 (see Table 2). Austria was the only EU destination to which tourists from other EU countries made more trips during the winter season (November to February) than in summer (June to September) (see Figure 5).
Seasonality of inbound trips by visitors coming from other EU countries was particularly high in three Member States. More than half (51.9%) of all inbound trips in Croatia took place during the two core summer months, July and August. In Bulgaria and Greece, seven out of ten inbound trips were made during the summer season, however more evenly spread throughout the four months, June to September (see Figure 5). In Croatia, the number of trips of EU visitors in the peak month was 35 times higher than the lowest month, while this ratio was 24 to one and 21 to one for Bulgaria and Greece respectively. By far followed Malta with the number of inbound trips in the peak month being 9 times higher than the lowest month.
City tourism was one of the attractions for 9 out of 10 trips of Europeans to Estonia
Looking at trips for personal purposes and at the features of the destination that attracted the tourist, city tourism was reported as one of the attractions for more than half (52 %) of intra-EU personal trips of Europeans in 2013 (see Table 3), followed by seaside which was a relevant feature for 36 % of the trips, countryside (23 %) and mountains (17 %).
Looking at national data, city tourism was the most frequently reported feature for most countries. Cities were reported as an attraction for more than 4 out of 5 trips to Estonia (89 %), Romania (83 %) and Lithuania (82 %).
Seaside attracted, among other features, European tourists for more than 70 % of their personal trips to Croatia (78 %), Bulgaria (77 %), Greece (76 %), Malta (73 %), Cyprus (72 %) and Spain (71 %).
In only three countries, the countryside was an attraction for more than 1 in 3 inbound trips: Finland (40 %), Denmark and Austria (both 38 %). Europeans reported the mountains as one of the attractions for 60 % of their personal trips to Austria.
Data sources and availability
Collection of annual data on trips of EU residents
The collection consists of harmonised data collected by the Member States in the frame of the Regulation 692/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning European statistics on tourism.
The scope of observation for data on tourism trips are all tourism trips with at least one overnight stay, made by the resident population aged 15 and over. It includes trips made for private or professional purpose, outside the ususal environment.
Data on type of destination is transmitted to Eurostat every three years. The first data transmission took place in 2014 for the reference year 2013. For this variable, multiple answer possibilities are allowed. In case of a trip involving several destinations, it should refer to the entire trip and not only to the main destination of the trip.
The EU is a major tourist destination, with five Member States among the world’s top ten destinations for holidaymakers, according to UNWTO data. Tourism is an important activity in the EU which has the potential to contribute towards employment and economic growth, as well as to development in rural, peripheral or less-developed areas. These characteristics drive the demand for reliable and harmonised statistics within this field, as well as within the wider context of regional policy and sustainable development policy areas.
Further Eurostat information
- Regional Statistics Illustrated - Tourism
- Tourism (t_tour), see:
- Number of trips by country/world region of destination (tin00190)
- Number of nights spent by country/world region of destination (tin00193)
- Tourism (tour), see "Annual data on trips of EU residents":
- Number of tourism trips (tour_dem_tt)
- Number of tourism nights (tour_dem_tn)
- Expenditure on tourism trips (tour_dem_ex)
Methodology / Metadata
- Annual data on trips of EU residents (ESMS metadata file — tour_dem_esms)
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)
- With 2012 as reference year:
- Regulation 692/2011 of 6 July 2011 concerning European statistics on tourism and repealing Council Directive 95/57/EC.
- Regulation 1051/2011 of 20 October 2011 implementing Regulation 692/2011 concerning European statistics on tourism, as regards the structure of the quality reports and the transmission of the data.
- Previous legal acts (concerning reference periods before 2012):
- Directive 95/57/EC of 23 November 1995 on the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism.
- Commission Decision 1999/35/CE of 9 December 1998 on the procedures for implementing Council Directive 95/57/EC on the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism.
- Commission Decision 2004/883/CE of 10 December 2004 adjusting the Annex to Council Directive 95/57/EC on the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism as regards country lists.
- Directive 2006/110/EC of 20 November 2006 adapting Directives 95/57/EC and 2001/109/EC in the field of statistics, by reason of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania.
- Agenda for a sustainable and competitive European tourism (Communication from the European Commission, October 2007)
- European Commission - Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs - Tourism