Tourism statistics at regional level

Data extracted in March 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: June 2016.

Maps can be explored interactively using Eurostat’s Statistical Atlas (see user manual).

This article is part of a set of statistical articles based on the Eurostat regional yearbook publication. It presents regional patterns of tourism across the European Union (EU); its main focus is tourism occupancy, as measured by the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, while it also presents figures on tourist accommodation capacity.

Figure 1: Nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, EU-28, 2013 (¹)
(%)
Source: Eurostat (tour_occ_nin2)
Map 1: Nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, by NUTS level 2 region, 2013 (¹)
(million nights spent by residents and non-residents)
Source: Eurostat (tour_occ_nin2)
Figure 2: Regional disparities in nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, by NUTS level 2 region, 2013 (¹)
(% of total nights spent)
Source: Eurostat (tour_occ_nin2)
Figure 3: Top 20 EU tourist regions, number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, by NUTS level 2 region, 2013 (¹)
(million nights spent by residents and non-residents)
Source: Eurostat (tour_occ_nin2)
Table 1: Most popular tourist regions, number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, by NUTS level 2 region, 2013 (¹)
Source: Eurostat (tour_occ_nin2)
Map 2: Nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, by NUTS level 2 region, 2013 (¹)
(nights spent by residents and non-residents per 1 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (tour_occ_nin2)
Map 3: Nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, by NUTS level 2 region, 2013 (¹)
(nights spent by residents and non-residents per km²)
Source: Eurostat (tour_occ_nin2) and (demo_r_d3area)
Map 4: Nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments in coastal localities, by NUTS level 2 region, 2013 (¹)
(% of total nights spent by residents and non-residents in the regions' tourist accommodation establishments)
Source: Eurostat (tour_occ_nin2)
Figure 4: Nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, by degree of urbanisation, EU-28, 2013 (¹)
(%)
Source: Eurostat (tour_occ_nin2d)
Map 5: Bedroom occupancy rates in hotels and similar establishments, by NUTS level 2 region, 2013 (¹)
(%)
Source: Eurostat (tour_occ_anor2)
Figure 5: Top 10 and bottom 10 EU tourist regions in terms of bedroom occupancy rates in hotels and similar establishments, by NUTS level 2 region, 2013 (¹)
(%)
Source: Eurostat (tour_occ_anor2)

Main statistical findings

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, Europe was the most frequently visited region in the world in 2013, accounting for over half (52 %) of all international tourist arrivals, some 563 million persons. The wealth of European cultures, the variety of its landscapes and the quality of its tourist infrastructure are likely to be among the varied reasons why tourists choose to take their holidays in Europe.

Number of overnight stays

The number of overnight stays in tourist accommodation, which reflects both the length of stay and the number of visitors, is considered a key indicator for tourism statistics. In 2013, there were 2.64 billion nights spent in EU-28 tourist accommodation. This figure marked a 2.4 % increase when compared with 2012, although it was unevenly distributed between residents (where there was a small contraction in the number of nights spent) and non-residents (where there was growth of 5.3 %).

The most used type of accommodation in the EU is hotels and similar accommodation

Figure 1 presents an alternative analysis: it shows that the total number of nights spent by residents (domestic tourists) and non-residents (inbound tourists) in EU-28 tourist accommodation was heavily skewed in favour of hotels and similar accommodation (hereafter referred as hotels), as this type of accommodation accounted for almost two thirds (64.4 %) of the total nights spent in 2013. Holiday homes and other short-stay accommodation (hereafter referred as rented holiday accommodation) accounted for just over one fifth (21.9 %) of the total number of nights, while camping grounds, recreational vehicle parks and trailer parks (hereafter referred to as campsites) accounted for the residual share of 13.8 %.

The relative importance of hotels in the EU regions may be illustrated by looking at the number of regions where such accommodation accounted for the largest number of nights spent. In 2013, using this measure, some 85.3 % of NUTS level 2 regions reported their main type of accommodation was hotels.

Defining the scope of tourism

The statistical definition of tourism is broader than the common definition employed on an everyday basis, as it encompasses not only private trips but also business trips. This is primarily because tourism is viewed from an economic perspective, whereby private visitors on holiday and visitors making business trips have broadly similar consumption patterns (transport, accommodation and restaurant / catering services). As such, it may be of secondary interest to providers of tourism services whether their customers are private tourists on holiday or visitors on a business trip.

Tourist accommodation establishments are defined according to the activity classification, NACE. They are units providing, as a paid service, short-term or short-stay accommodation services, as defined by NACE Groups 55.1–55.3:

The number of nights spent (or overnight stays) is the principal indicator used for analysis, covering each night a guest / tourist actually spends (sleeps or stays) in a tourist accommodation establishment. No regional statistics are available for nights spent in non-rented accommodation or for same-day visits.

The highest number of overnight stays were in coastal and Alpine regions, as well as in some of the EU’s major cities

Map 1 provides a regional breakdown of the total number of overnight stays (domestic and inbound combined) in all types of tourist accommodation in 2013. The map shows that tourism in the EU was often concentrated in coastal regions (principally in the Mediterranean), Alpine regions and some of the EU’s major cities.

SPOTLIGHT ON THE REGIONS

Canarias, Spain

ES70 slava296 shutterstock 79396060.jpg

Among the NUTS level 2 regions of the EU, the highest number of nights spent by residents and non-residents in tourist accommodation establishments was recorded in the Spanish island region of the Canarias (89.8 million nights); the majority of these nights were spent in hotels (59.3 million). In terms of the overall number of nights spent, two other Spanish regions featured among the top five EU tourist regions in 2013, Cataluña and the Illes Balears.

©: Slava296 / Shutterstock.com

A total of 28 NUTS level 2 regions in the EU-28 recorded more than 20 million nights spent in tourist accommodation (as shown by the darkest shade in Map 1). This list included six regions in Italy, five regions in each of Spain and France, four regions in Germany, two regions in each of Greece and Austria, and a single region in each of Ireland, Croatia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Among these 28 regions there were six capital regions, namely, those of Berlin (Germany), the Île de France (France), Southern and Eastern (Ireland), Lazio (Italy), Noord-Holland (the Netherlands) and Inner London (the United Kingdom).

There were considerable regional disparities between the number of nights spent by domestic tourists and inbound tourists in the EU’s tourist accommodation (Figure 2); note that the two parts of the figure have been ranked independently.

Capital regions were of particular appeal to non-nationals

One of the most striking aspects is the considerable differences in the balance between domestic and inbound tourists. For example, while more than 80 % of the total nights spent in Romania and Poland in 2013 were accounted for by domestic tourists, the share of inbound tourists in total nights spent in the traditional tourist destinations of Malta, Cyprus and Croatia rose to over 90 %. At a more detailed level, there were wide disparities between regions of the same EU Member States with respect to the origin of tourists. For example, across Spanish regions, domestic tourists accounted for 88.1 % of the nights spent in the Principado de Asturias, while they only accounted for 8.6 % of the total nights spent in the Illes Balears.

Another interesting feature of Figure 2 is the popularity of capital regions for inbound tourists (note that this may be driven by business travel, as well as personal travel). This was especially true for the more northerly EU Member States (but was also the case in Italy, Romania and Slovenia), in contrast to some of the more southerly Member States where the most popular regions for inbound tourists were often coastal areas, as this was the case in Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria and Spain. Even when inbound tourists were inclined to favour coastal regions, the share of their total nights spent in the capital region remained relatively high. For example, inbound tourists accounted for 60–70 % of the total nights spent in tourist accommodation of Kontinentalna Hrvatska (Croatia) and Attiki (Greece) in 2013 and for close to half of the total nights spent in Yugozapaden (Bulgaria) and the Comunidad de Madrid (Spain).

Outside of Paris and London, nationals accounted for more than 50 % of the overnight stays in every region of France and the United Kingdom, as well as Germany

Conversely, domestic tourists were generally found to spend a higher share of the total nights spent in regions outside of the capital. It is also interesting to note that in Germany, France and the United Kingdom (2012 data), aside from the capital regions of Île de France and London (Inner and Outer), nationals accounted for a majority of the total nights spent in every other region. The share of nationals in the total number of nights spent rose as high as 96.2 % in the northern German region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, while in the other large EU economies the share of nationals peaked at 95.2 % in Lincolnshire (the United Kingdom), 91.2 % in Basilicata (Italy), 88.1 % in the Principado de Asturias (Spain), and 87.3 % in the Auvergne (France).

Most popular tourist regions

The top 20 tourist regions — in terms of nights spent by domestic tourists and inbound tourists in all types of tourist accommodation — are shown in the first part of Figure 3. These 20 regions together accounted for more than one third (36.8 %) of the total number of nights spent in the EU-28 in 2013.

Almost 90 million overnight stays in the Canarias

In 2013, across all of the NUTS level 2 regions in the EU, the Spanish island region of the Canarias had the highest number (89.8 million nights) of overnight stays in tourist accommodation. The latest figures available show that the number of nights spent in the Canarias increased by 2.3 million (or 2.6 %) between 2012 and 2013.

The second most popular destination was the French capital region of Île de France (77.5 million nights), which marked a modest reduction of 0.6 million nights compared with 2012. The top five was completed by two more Spanish regions, Cataluña (70.5 million nights) and the Illes Balears (65.3 million nights), and the Croatian coastal / island region of Jadranska Hrvatska (61.8 million nights). All three of these regions recorded an increase in their number of overnights stays between 2012 and 2013, the largest of which was in Jadranska Hrvatska (an additional 1.9 million nights). As a result, Jadranska Hrvatska moved into the top five of the ranking, pushing the Italian region of Veneto down into sixth place (61.5 million nights).

Hotels often accounted for the highest share of overnight stays in the most popular tourist destinations

Figure 3 also presents an analysis according to type of accommodation. Hotels accounted for more than half of the total number of overnight stays in tourist accommodation in 14 of the 20 most popular tourist regions of the EU in 2013. The French and Italian capital regions of Île de France and Lazio, the Spanish regions of the Illes Balears and Andalucía, as well as the Alpine regions of Oberbayern (Germany) and Tirol (Austria) each reported that more than four out of every five nights were spent in hotels in 2013. In absolute terms, there were more nights spent in hotels in the French capital region of Île de France (67.4 million) than in the Canarias (59.3 million), while the three Spanish regions of the Illes Balears, Cataluña and Andalucía were the only other NUTS level 2 regions to record in excess of 40 million nights.

Campsites accounted for a high proportion of tourist nights spent in several French regions

By contrast, Languedoc-Roussillon (in the south of France on the Mediterranean coast) was the only region among the top 20 to report that more than half of its total number of overnight stays were spent in campsites. Camping was also a popular option among tourists in other French regions, as it accounted for 47.3 % of the overnight stays in Aquitaine (south-west France) and for 27.7 % of the nights spent in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (which covers the remainder of the Mediterranean coastline). In absolute terms, there were almost 20 million nights spent in the campsites of Languedoc-Roussillon in 2013, while between 14.4 million and 16.5 million nights were spent in the campsites of five other regions, namely, Veneto, Cataluña, Aquitaine, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Jadranska Hrvatska.

Rented holiday accommodation was popular in Rhône-Alpes and Jadranska Hrvatska

In relative terms, the most popular regions for rented holiday accommodation (among those in the top 20 tourist destinations) were the south-eastern French region of Rhône-Alpes (43.9 % of the total nights spent) and the Croatian region of Jadranska Hrvatska (42.0 %), while it accounted for just over one third (33.8 %) of the nights spent in the Canarias. In absolute terms, the same three regions recorded the highest number of nights spent, although their order was reversed. The number of overnight stays in rented holiday accommodation rose to a peak of 30.4 million in the Canarias, while Jadranska Hrvatska (25.9 million nights) and Rhône-Alpes (21.5 million nights) were the only other NUTS level 2 regions to record more than 20 million nights.

Three out of the five most popular regions for inbound tourists were in Spain

Figure 3 also provides a similar analysis for domestic tourists (those from the same country) and for inbound (foreign) tourists; note that the latter includes tourism between EU Member States.

The most popular destinations for foreign tourists included the three Spanish regions of the Canarias, the Illes Balears and Cataluña, along with Jadranska Hrvatska and the Île de France. The remaining regions most popular with inbound tourists were generally coastal regions, regions with major cities, or Alpine regions.

By contrast, among nationals, the list of regions with the highest number of overnight stays is dominated by the most populous EU Member States and may also reflect the choice of (year-round) destinations that are available in each country. That said, tourists from France had a particularly high share of overnight stays in France, as 5 of the top 10 regions were French. Across the whole of the EU, the most popular destinations for resident tourists included the three French regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Rhône-Alpes and the Île de France, as well as the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna (which includes a line of coastal resorts stretching to the north of Rimini and the cities of Bologna, Modena and Parma) and the Spanish region of Andalucía (which includes the Costa de Almería, the Costa del Sol and the Costa de la Luz, as well as the cities of Córdoba, Granada and Sevilla).

Foreign visitors were principally attracted to coastal destination in southern regions of the EU and capital regions in more northerly Member States

Table 1 shows separately for domestic tourists and inbound tourists, which regions had the most overnight stays in tourist accommodation in 2013. As already seen, many tourists have a preference for visiting regions with a coastline. This is, by definition, the case for the 10 EU Member States which are characterised by all of their NUTS 2 regions having a coastline. Half of these Member States have more than one region and for these a north–south divide was apparent, insofar as foreign visitors were most likely to visit the capital regions of Denmark, Ireland, Finland and Sweden, while in Portugal the most popular destination for inbound tourists was the Algarve.

Among the four landlocked EU Member States with more than one region, the most popular regions for foreign visitors were also capital regions in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, whereas foreigners spent a higher number of nights in the Tirol compared with the Austrian capital region of Wien; this may, at least in part, be due to winter skiing or summer hiking holidays often lasting a week or more, whereas tourist trips to cities are often shorter (for business meetings or for a weekend).

Of the remaining 13 EU Member States (that were neither landlocked nor completely coastal) the most visited region was generally different for domestic tourists and for inbound tourists, the only exceptions being the Black Sea coastal region of Yugoiztochen (Bulgaria) and the Adriatic coastline and islands of Jadranska Hrvatska (Croatia). Among inbound tourists, the capital regions of Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia and the United Kingdom attracted more foreign visitors than any other region. By contrast, the most popular regions for foreign visitors in Bulgaria (Yugoiztochen), Greece (Kriti), Spain (the Canarias), Croatia (Jadranska Hrvatska) and Italy (Veneto) were all coastal regions. A somewhat different pattern was observed in Poland, as the most popular region for foreign tourists was neither the capital region, nor a coastal region, but rather the southern region of Małopolskie (which includes the city of Kraków).

Tourism pressures

In a broad sense, uncontrolled tourism poses a number of threats to both natural areas and cities. Tourism pressures may be measured using a range of indicators, one of which is tourism intensity which is defined as the number of overnight stays in relation to the resident population, and can be used to analyse the sustainability of tourism (Map 2). An alternative measure, tourism density, is presented in Map 3: it shows the relationship between the number of overnight stays and the total area of each region, in the form of a ratio per square kilometre (km²).

Tourism intensity in the Illes Balears, Notio Aigaio and the Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano / Bozen was more than 10 times the EU average

Across the whole of the EU-28 in 2013, there was an average of 5 209 nights spent by tourists in tourist accommodation per 1 000 inhabitants. Tourism intensity peaked in the Greek region of Notio Aigaio (67 840 overnight stays per 1 000 inhabitants), the Spanish region of the Illes Balears (58 811 overnight stays per 1 000 inhabitants) and the Italian Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano / Bozen (56 938 overnight stays per 1 000 inhabitants); none of the remaining NUTS level 2 regions recorded a ratio of more than 50 000 overnight stays per 1 000 inhabitants.

Map 2 shows that the highest tourism intensity rates were often concentrated in popular coastal regions, as well as a number of regions with relatively low levels of population density, for example, several Alpine regions, most regions in the Nordic Member States, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, or Cumbria and North Yorkshire in England; a similar pattern was observed in Iceland and Norway.

Regional tourism density peaked in Inner London

In 2013, an average of 592 overnight stays in tourist accommodation were recorded for each square kilometre of the EU-28 (Map 3). Regional tourism density peaked in Inner London, with by far the highest concentration of tourists, as in 2012 there were 136 705 nights spent by tourists per km²; this was approximately 3.5 times as high as the second ranked region, the Belgian capital of the Région de Bruxelles-Capitale / Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (38 951 nights spent by tourists per km² in 2013) and 230 times as high as the EU average.

SPOTLIGHT ON THE REGIONS

Malta, Malta

MT00 mRGB shutterstock 148267385.jpg

There are considerable differences between EU regions in relation to whether their demand for tourism comes from the domestic market or from inbound tourists arriving from other countries. As may be expected for a relatively small country, inbound tourists accounted for a high share (96.1 %) of the total nights spent in Malta and in Cyprus (93.6 %).

©: mRGB / Shutterstock.com

There were eight additional NUTS level 2 regions where the tourism density rate was higher than 10 000 nights spent by tourists per km² in 2013. These included three additional capital regions (Wien, Berlin and Praha), the urban regions of Hamburg and Outer London, and the popular island destinations of Malta (one region at this level of detail), the Illes Balears and the Canarias.

A comparison of the results shown in Map 2 and Map 3 indicates that tourism pressures were particularly high in 20 regions across the EU; each of these regions had an average of more than 10 thousand nights spent in tourist accommodation per 1 000 inhabitants and more than 2 thousand nights spent in tourist accommodation per km² — in other words, high levels of tourism intensity and tourism density. These 20 regions were spread across 10 of the EU Member States and included: three regions from each of Greece (the island regions of Ionia Nisia, Notio Aigaio and Kriti), Italy (the northern regions of the Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano / Bozen, the Provincia Autonoma di Trento, and Veneto) and Austria (the Alpine regions of Salzburg, Tirol and Vorarlberg), two regions from each of Spain (the island regions of the Illes Balears and the Canarias), the Netherlands (Drenthe and Zeeland), Portugal (the Algarve and the Região Autónoma da Madeira) and the United Kingdom (Inner London and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly); and a single region from each of the Czech Republic (the capital region of Praha), Croatia (the coastal region of Jadranska Hrvatska) and Malta (which is a single region at this level of detail).

Coastal, rural and urban tourism

Many coastal regions are characterised by considerable building activity as more of the population chooses to live near the sea and mass-market tourism continues to expand. Coastal regions are characterised by a range of economic activities, covering among others: shipping and ports, fisheries, energy and coastal tourism. Such activity can potentially have serious implications in relation to sustainable development.

The pull of coastal localities as tourist destinations

Map 4 presents regional tourism statistics analysed according to whether or not tourist accommodation establishments are in coastal localities. It shows, for each NUTS level 2 region with a coastline, the proportion of total nights spent in tourist accommodation in coastal localities. There were 16 regions across the EU-28 where coastal localities accounted for each and every night spent in such establishments. These covered a range of different coastal regions: from largely urban regions such as Bremen or Hamburg in Germany, through traditional tourist destinations such as the islands of the Canarias and the Illes Balears, or Cyprus and Malta (single regions at this level of analysis), to less well-known tourist destinations, Åland (in Finland) or East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire (in the United Kingdom).

The pull of coastal localities can be seen by the skewed nature of the distribution of nights spent. Among the 121 NUTS 2 coastal regions across the EU for which data are available in 2012 or 2013 (no information for Greece), almost four out of every five regions reported that coastal localities accounted for a majority of the nights that were spent in tourist accommodation. The remaining 25 regions, where coastal localities accounted for less than 50 % of the nights spent in tourist accommodation (as shown by the lightest shade in Map 4), were often regions that had relatively short coastlines and major inland cities, for example, Picardie in the north of France, the Noord Brabant region of the Netherlands, Warmińsko-Mazurskie in Poland, or Cheshire in the United Kingdom.

Rural localities accounted for close to 45 % of the total nights spent by tourists in the EU

Figure 4 presents an alternative analysis, providing information for 2013 on overnight stays in tourist accommodation; it is based on the degree of urbanisation (defined in terms of rural areas, towns and suburbs, and cities). The figure shows that the total number of nights spent (by domestic tourists and inbound tourists) in EU-28 tourist accommodation was relatively evenly spread according to the degree of urbanisation, as slightly more than one third of all overnight stays were in rural areas (35.0 %) and in cities (34.4 %), while towns and suburbs accounted for a somewhat lower share (30.5 %).

The relative importance of the three degrees of urbanisation may be further illustrated by looking at the number of regions in the EU where rural areas, towns and suburbs, and cities accounted for the highest number of nights spent. In 2013, using this measure, some 44.7 % of NUTS level 2 regions reported that the main type of accommodation used was located in rural areas, 31.5 % in cities and 23.7 % in towns and suburbs.

Looking in more detail at rural areas in 2013, there were five NUTS level 2 regions across the EU where more than 90 % of overnight stays were spent in rural localities, they were: the southernmost Belgian region of the Province Luxembourg, the westernmost Dutch region of Zeeland, the easternmost Austrian region of Burgenland, and two sparsely-populated regions of the United Kingdom (data are for 2012), namely, Cumbria (north-west England) and the Highlands and Islands (of Scotland).

In absolute terms, the French capital region of the Île de France recorded the highest number of overnight stays in city localities (62.2 million in 2013), followed by Inner London (44.8 million in 2012). By contrast, the highest number of overnight stays in rural localities in 2013 was recorded in Jadranska Hrvatska (42.4 million), followed by the Illes Balears (40.7 million).

Accommodation capacity in hotels and similar establishments

Of the estimated 562 470 tourist accommodation establishments in the EU-28 in 2013, just over one third (36.1 %) were hotels. They provided a total of 6.6 million bedrooms and 13.7 million bed places, equivalent to an average of 32 bedrooms and 67 bed places per establishment.

While a count of the total number of bed places may be of interest in relation to the capacity of different regions to respond to tourism demand, those working within the tourism industry are more likely to be interested in net occupancy rates for bedrooms (room rates are often considered the preferred measure insofar as the turnover of a double room is often similar irrespective of whether the room is occupied by one or two persons).

The occupancy of hotels may vary according to the characteristics of each region. Urban regions are more likely to be characterised by large numbers of visitors who tend to stay for a relatively short period of time, with tourist trips to cities often spread throughout the year. Visitors to these regions may also be travelling for professional reasons, in which case demand for rooms will probably be spread throughout the working week, supplemented by private trips during weekends and holiday periods.

By contrast, the average length of stays is substantially longer in more traditional holiday regions which are visited chiefly for recreational purposes. Nevertheless, tourism demand for trips to these regions is often concentrated in the summer months (especially for those regions with coastlines), while there is a secondary peak in demand during the winter months, most apparent in Alpine regions.

Bedroom occupancy rates in hotels and similar establishments highest in London

Map 5 provides a regional analysis of bedroom occupancy rates in hotels in 2013; note that data for the United Kingdom are only available for NUTS level 1 regions (data for 2012) and that data for the Netherlands are only available at a national level, while there are no data available for Austria.

Bedroom occupancy rates in hotels were particularly high in the west of the EU, with particularly high rates across most regions of France, Germany, the Benelux countries, Ireland and the United Kingdom; as well as Iceland. Further south, there were several traditional tourist destinations which recorded relatively high rates, principally the island regions of Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus.

The highest net occupancy rate was recorded in London (Figure 5): in 2012, an average of just over four out of every five bedrooms in hotels (80.1 %) were occupied. In 2013, there were seven other NUTS 2 regions with occupancy rates of at least 70 %: two of these were the capital regions of Île de France and Berlin, there was one other German metropolitan region (Hamburg), while the others were the island destinations of the Illes Balears, the Canarias and Malta (one region at this level of detail); note that some hotels in these holiday destinations may close during the off-season, while others seek to keep their occupancy rates high through special offers which may, for example, encourage pensioners (typically from northern and western EU Member States) to spend longer periods on vacation during the winter months.

The darkest shade in Map 5 shows the eight regions with occupancy rates of at least 70 %, together with a further 20 regions where bedroom occupancy rates for hotels were within the range of 60–70 %. These 20 regions were often characterised as urban areas, as relatively few were popular tourist destinations — the main exceptions being the Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano / Bozen, Oberbayern, Cataluña and Cyprus (a single region at this level of detail).

Half of all regions in the EU had occupancy rates that were below 50 %

In 2013, bedroom occupancy rates in hotels were below 50 % in approximately half of the EU regions for which data are available (114 out of a total of 227). At the lower end of the ranking (as shown by the lightest shade in Map 5), there were 18 NUTS level 2 regions in the EU where occupancy rates fell below 30 %. Of these, the Belgian region of the Province Luxembourg stood out as having a particularly low occupancy rate compared with the relatively high rates recorded in the remainder the regions of the Benelux countries (aside from the neighbouring southern Belgian region of the Province Namur). The 17 remaining regions with occupancy rates of less than 30 % were exclusively located across eastern and southern regions of the EU (two regions from Bulgaria, three from the Czech Republic and one from Romania; six from Greece and two each from Italy and Portugal); it is likely that the continuing effects of the financial and economic crisis impacted upon both business and leisure demand in some of these regions.

The lowest occupancy rate (18.7 %) was recorded in the Greek region of Dytiki Makedonia (an inland region in the north of the country that borders onto Albania). It had a relatively low level of tourism activity, as it accounted for 1.6 % of the nights spent by domestic tourists in the whole of Greece, and for 0.1 % of the nights spent by foreigners.

Data sources and availability

Legal basis

As of reference year 2012, the legal basis for the collection of tourism statistics is a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning European statistics on tourism ((EU) no 692/2011) and a European Commission implementing regulation ((EU) no 1051/2011). Data are collected from all of the EU Member States, as well as from EFTA and candidate countries.

Regional tourism statistics are only available from suppliers of tourism services; they are collected via surveys filled in by accommodation establishments. The information covers accommodation capacity (establishments, room and bed places) and occupancy (number of arrivals and overnight stays).

Regional and sub-national breakdowns

Regulation (EU) 692/2011 foresees the collection of regional tourism statistics at the NUTS 2 level. The regulation introduced two new analyses for sub-national statistics relating to accommodation statistics, namely, by degree of urbanisation (rural areas, towns and suburbs, cities) and by coastal or non-coastal locality.

Statistical units and activity classification

A tourist accommodation establishment is a local kind-of-activity unit. It includes all establishments providing, as a paid service, accommodation for tourists, regardless of whether or not the provision of tourist accommodation is the main or a secondary activity of the enterprise to which the establishment belongs. As such, all establishments providing accommodation are covered, even if a major part of their turnover comes from restaurant / catering services or other services.

Tourism accommodation establishments are classified, as:

  • NACE Group 55.1: hotels and similar accommodation (this includes accommodation provided by hotels, resort hotels, suite / apartment hotels, motels);
  • NACE Group 55.2: holiday and other short-stay accommodation (this includes holiday homes, visitor flats and bungalows, cottages and cabins without housekeeping services, youth hostels and mountain refuges);
  • NACE Group 55.3: camping grounds, recreational vehicle parks and trailer parks — otherwise referred to as campsites (this includes the provision of accommodation in campgrounds, trailer parks, recreational camps and fishing and hunting camps for short stay visitors, and the provision of space and facilities for recreational vehicles, protective shelters or plain bivouac facilities for placing tents and / or sleeping bags).

Residents and non-residents

Domestic tourism comprises the activities of residents of a given country travelling to and staying in their own country, but outside their usual environment; this information may be contrasted with similar information on inbound tourists (also referred to as international or non-resident tourists). Inbound tourists are classified according to their country of residence, not their citizenship.

Context

Tourism cuts across many economic activities: services to tourists include the provision of accommodation, gastronomy (for example, restaurants or cafés), transport, and a wide range of cultural and recreational facilities (for example, theatres, museums, leisure parks or swimming pools). It therefore has the potential to play a significant role in the development of EU regions, contributing to employment and wealth creation, sustainable development, enhanced cultural heritage, and the overall shaping of European identity. Indeed, tourism can be particularly important in remote, peripheral regions, where it can often be one of the main sources of income for the local population; this especially applies in many of the EU’s island states and regions, as well as in coastal and Alpine regions.

Policies

Tourism impacts on a wide range of policy areas, including regional policy, the diversification of rural economies, maritime policy, sustainability and competitiveness, social policy and inclusion (tourism for all). The EU’s tourism policy — which is one of support and coordination — aims to maintain Europe’s position as the world’s leading tourist destination, while maximising the tourism industry’s contribution to growth and employment. To do so, there are a wide range of EU funds made available for developing the tourism sector during the period 2014–20.

A European Commission communication titled ‘Europe, the world’s No. 1 tourist destination — a new political framework for tourism in Europe’ (COM(2010) 352) was adopted in June 2010. It encourages a coordinated approach for initiatives linked to tourism and defined a new framework for action to increase the competitiveness of tourism and its capacity for sustainable growth. Four priorities for action were identified in order to: stimulate competitiveness; promote sustainable and responsible tourism; consolidate Europe’s image as a collection of sustainable, high-quality destinations; and maximise the potential of EU policies and financial instruments for developing tourism.

The competitiveness of the EU’s tourism sector is closely linked to its sustainability, as the quality of tourist destinations is strongly influenced by their natural and cultural environment and their integration into the local community. Sustainable tourism involves the preservation and enhancement of cultural and natural heritage, including the arts, gastronomy or the preservation of biodiversity.

Coastal and maritime tourism is the largest maritime activity in the EU and closely linked to other parts of the economy; it employs almost 3.2 million people, while almost half of all nights spent in EU accommodation establishments are in coastal localities. In a communication on maritime and coastal tourism titled ‘A European strategy for more growth and jobs in coastal and maritime tourism’ (COM(2014) 86), the European Commission reflected on the diversity of the EU’s coastal regions and their capacity to generate wealth and jobs, in line with the EU’s ‘Blue growth strategy’ (COM(2012) 494).

The continued globalisation of tourism opens up new opportunities and creates increased competition. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) has focused efforts on encouraging the diversification of the European tourism offer through initiatives in the areas of maritime and coastal tourism, sustainable tourism, cultural tourism, tourism for all, accessible tourism and low-season tourism. It helps promote the visibility of, among other, European cultural routes and emerging and lesser-known destinations, through a commitment to social, cultural and environmental sustainability.

Furthermore the Virtual Tourism Observatory has explicitly been positioned by DG GROW as a tool to help stimulate the competitiveness of European tourism through an improved knowledge base about tourism. Since 2009, the European Commission has carried out an annual Flash Eurobarometer on the travel intentions of EU citizens. Its results provide valuable information to the Virtual Tourism Observatory about European tourists' preferences and trends in consumers' opinions concerning consumption of tourism products.

The European Commission also provide ad-hoc grants to the European Travel Commission (ETC), a non-profit organisation responsible for promoting Europe as an international tourist destination. This has resulted in the Destination Europe 2020 strategy (designed to increase the visibility of Europe as a destination in long-haul markets) and in the creation and maintenance of websites such as visiteurope.com and tastingeurope.com.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Data visualisation

Publications

Main tables

Regional tourism statistics (t_reg_tour)

Database

Regional tourism statistics (reg_tour)
Occupancy in collective accommodation establishments : domestic and inbound tourism (reg_tour_occ)
Capacity of collective tourist accommodation: establishments, bedrooms and bed-places (reg_tour_cap)
Annual data on tourism industries (inda)
Occupancy of tourism accommodation establishments (tour_occ)
Nights spent by residents and non-residents (tour_occ_n)
Arrivals of residents and non-residents (tour_occ_a)
Occupancy rates for hotels and similar accomodations (tour_occ_or)
Capacity of collective tourist accommodation establishments (tour_cap)

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Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)

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