Tourism statistics at regional level
- Data extracted in March 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: September 2018.
This article forms part of Eurostat’s annual flagship publication, the Eurostat regional yearbook. It presents regional patterns of tourism across the European Union (EU); its main focus is tourist accommodation occupancy, as measured by the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments. The data are presented for different regions across the EU, with a focus on tourism pressures and sustainability issues. It closes with some information on tourist accommodation capacity, as measured by bedroom occupancy rates.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
- According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Europe was the most frequently visited region in the world in 2016, accounting for close to half (49.8 %) of the 1.24 billion international tourist arrivals. 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.
- Across the EU, more nights were spent in tourist accommodation establishments located in rural areas (than in cities); many of these were coastal areas or Alpine regions.
- The most popular tourist region in the EU was Canarias, the Spanish island region.
- In most of the multi-regional EU Member States, international tourists spent a relatively high number of their overall nights in capital city regions.
- Between 2014 and 2015, the highest growth rate for total nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments was recorded by Bratislavský kraj (up 26.2 %), the Slovakian capital city region.
- Among the most popular tourist regions in the EU, Berlin, the German capital city region, recorded the fastest expansion between 2005 and 2015 in its total number of nights spent in tourist accommodation.
Number of overnight stays
In 2015, there were 2.78 billion nights spent in EU-28 tourist accommodation establishments. This figure marked a 3.8 % increase when compared with 2014; as such, the pace at which the number of nights spent increased more than doubled when compared with the growth rate for the year before (1.5 %).
There is a wide range of tourism opportunities across the EU, from coastal and Alpine destinations to popular cities
Figure 1 provides an analysis by degree of urbanisation for the distribution of the total number of nights spent by domestic (resident) and inbound international (non-resident) tourists in all types of tourist accommodation. It reflects the diverse range of tourism opportunities that exist across the EU, with the total number of nights spent in 2014 relatively evenly distributed between rural areas (36.1 %), cities (33.8 %) and towns and suburbs (30.0 %); note that the statistics presented include business travellers who are generally more likely to stay in urban areas.
More recent data are available for most of the EU Member States, showing that rural areas — predominantly on the coast — accounted for almost two thirds of the total nights spent in Croatia (66.1 %) and Greece (65.1 %) in 2015, while rural areas — predominantly in alpine locations — accounted for a similar share of the total nights spent in Austria (66.5 %); Denmark (which is exclusively coastal) was the only other Member State where more than half (54.2 %) of the total nights spent in tourist accommodation were located in rural areas.
In two of the Baltic Member States — Latvia (66.1 %) and Estonia (54.6 %) — cities accounted for a particularly high share of total nights spent in 2015; cities also accounted for more than half of the total nights spent in the United Kingdom (51.1 %; 2012 data), and for the highest share of total nights spent in 11 additional Member States. For more detailed information on the most popular tourist regions in each of the EU Member States, see Table 1.
Coastal areas are defined on the basis of and consist of local administrative units or municipalities that border the sea, or have at least half of their total surface area within a distance of 10 km from the sea. Many coastal areas are characterised by considerable building activity as an increasing number of people choose to live near the sea and mass-market coastal tourism expands its footprint. These regions are characterised by a range of economic activities, covering among others: shipping and ports, fisheries and energy, as well as tourism-related activities such as construction, food and accommodation services, distributive trades and transport services. A high level of activity can potentially have serious implications in relation to sustainable development.
The latest statistics available indicate that almost half (47.4 %) of the total nights spent in EU-28 tourist accommodation establishments in 2014 were in coastal areas; the split between nights spent in coastal and non-coastal areas is presented in Figure 2 (note that five of the EU Member States are landlocked and are therefore not shown). Unsurprisingly, the inclination to stay in coastal areas was generally higher in southern EU Member States which are generally characterised by climatic conditions more conducive to coastal tourism, although topography also clearly plays a role in the split between nights spent in coastal and non-coastal regions. In 2015, more than 9 out of every 10 nights spent in the tourist accommodation establishments of Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Croatia and Denmark were located in coastal areas, while coastal areas also accounted for at least three quarters of the total nights spent in Portugal, Latvia, Estonia and Spain and for a majority of the nights spent in a further four Member States.
The 10 EU Member States where non-coastal areas accounted for a majority of the total nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments were widely distributed across all but southern areas of the EU. In 2015, more than four out of every five nights spent in Germany and Romania were in non-coastal areas, while non-coastal areas also accounted for more than three quarters of the total nights spent in Slovenia, Belgium, Lithuania and Poland.
In 2015, the most popular tourist region in the EU was Canarias, the Spanish island region
Map 1 shows that tourism in the EU was concentrated in coastal regions — principally, but not exclusively, in the Mediterranean — Alpine regions, and some of the EU’s capital cities. A total of 56 NUTS level 2 regions each recorded at least 12.5 million nights spent in tourist accommodation (as shown by the darkest shade of blue in Map 1), among which 20 recorded at least 30 million nights. These top 20 tourist destinations included five regions from each of Spain, France and Italy, two regions from Germany, and a single region from each of Croatia, Austria and the United Kingdom (2012 data) and also featured four capital city regions, namely those of Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom (the data presented refer to a NUTS level 1 region).
The most popular coastal destinations generally ran from southern Spain around the Mediterranean coastline into southern France and then across northern Italy to the Adriatic coastline of Croatia, along with several island regions located within the Mediterranean, including both Malta and Cyprus (which are single regions at this level of detail). The highest numbers of overnight stays in Alpine destinations were recorded in the neighbouring regions of Tirol (western Austria) and Oberbayern (southern Germany).
Looking in more detail, the highest number of nights spent by domestic and international tourists in tourist accommodation establishments was recorded in Canarias, one of the Spanish island regions, which includes popular destinations such as Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife (94.0 million nights in 2015); as such, it accounted for 3.4 % of the total nights spent in the whole of the EU-28. Two other Spanish regions featured among the top five tourist regions: Cataluña, which includes (among others) Barcelona, popular Costa Brava resorts and the Pyrenees mountain range (75.5 million nights); and Illes Balears, which includes (among others) Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza (65.2 million nights). Completing the list of the five most popular destinations were Île de France, the capital city region of France (76.8 million nights) and Jadranska Hrvatska, which covers coastal areas of Croatia (68.1 million nights). There were three other regions in the EU where more than 60 million nights were spent in tourist accommodation establishments in 2015, namely, Veneto in north-eastern Italy (63.3 million nights), Andalucía in southern Spain (61.4 million nights) and London, the capital city region of the United Kingdom (60.7 million nights; note that the data presented refer to 2012 and to a NUTS level 1 region).
The Turkish coastal region of Antalya, Isparta, Burdur that is situated on the Aegean Sea was, by far, the most popular tourist destination among non-member regions for which data are available (70.7 million nights spent in 2015), while its neighbouring region of Aydın, Denizli, Muğla — which includes the resorts of Bodrum and Marmaris — recorded the second highest number of nights spent (19.3 million).
Between 2014 and 2015, the Slovakian capital city region recorded the fastest expansion in nights spent in tourist accommodation
An analysis of the rate of change for the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments between 2014 and 2015 reveals that some of the highest growth rates were recorded in eastern regions of the EU; note there are no data available for this comparison for regions in Belgium or the United Kingdom. The most rapid growth was recorded in Bratislavský kraj, the Slovakian capital city region, where the total number of nights spent increased by 26.2 % to reach 2.5 million, while an increase of 22.1 % was recorded for the western Romanian region of Vest, whose largest city is Timișoara. The number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments increased by 15–20 % in six NUTS level 2 regions: two of these were located in Romania (Nord-Vest and Centru), while the others included Opolskie in southern Poland and the north-eastern Czech region of Severovýchod. The other two regions were from southern EU Member States, namely, the Portuguese island Região Autónoma dos Açores, and Molise in central Italy, both of which are characterised by mountainous regions and coastline. None of these eight regions with the highest growth rates were among the most popular tourist destinations in 2015, as the highest overall number of overnight stays among them was recorded in Severovýchod (7.4 million), followed by Centru (5.0 million) and Sud-Est (4.9 million).
Among the top 20 NUTS level 2 tourist destinations in the EU, there were 17 which reported an increase in their total number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments between 2014 and 2015, while two regions recorded a decline and there were no data available for London. The most rapid increase (+10.4 %) was registered in the northern Italian region of Lombardia (which includes the city of Milano), while increases within the range of 5–10 % were registered for Jadranska Hrvatska (Croatia), Andalucía and Comunidad Valenciana (both in southern Spain), as well as Berlin. By contrast, the number of nights spent in the EU’s most popular tourist destination, Canarias, fell slightly (-0.3 %), while the reduction recorded in Île de France was somewhat greater (-1.2 %).
Capital city regions are a popular choice for international tourists
Within the EU-28, domestic tourists accounted for 54.6 % of the total number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments in 2015, with the remaining 45.4 % accounted for by international tourists who may have travelled from other EU Member States or from outside of the EU.
There were considerable regional disparities between the number of nights spent by domestic tourists and international tourists (see Figure 3). For example, Közép-Magyarország, the capital city region, was the only one of the seven NUTS level 2 Hungarian regions to attract more international tourists (81.2 % of all overnight stays in the region), while domestic tourists accounted for between 56.1 % and 84.2 % of the total nights spent in the other Hungarian regions.
This pattern of international tourists being particularly attracted to capital city regions was often repeated across the 22 multi-regional EU Member States; note these developments may be driven by business travel as well as personal travel. In 14 of these 22 Member States, the capital city region registered the highest proportion of overnight stays by international tourists in 2015 (data for the United Kingdom refer to 2012).
The share of nights spent by domestic tourists in tourist accommodation establishments was relatively low for most capital city regions; this may be explained by the concentration of international tourists visiting capital cities, while domestic tourists may choose to explore other (sometimes internationally less well-known) regions of their country. The clearest example was in the United Kingdom, where domestic tourists accounted for less than one in five (17.8 %) of the total nights spent in London (2012 data; NUTS level 1), while they accounted for almost two thirds (65.3 %) of the total nights spent across the whole of the United Kingdom (also 2012 data). In a similar vein, the shares of domestic tourists in the total number of overnight stays in Praha and Bucuresti - Ilfov were approximately 40 percentage points lower than the shares of domestic tourists in the total number of nights spent across the whole of the Czech Republic and Romania.
Indeed, domestic tourists generally accounted for a much higher share of the total nights spent outside of capital city regions. They accounted for at least 50 % of the overnight stays in every region outside of the capital city regions in Denmark, Germany, Ireland, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom and in four of these — Germany, Ireland, Poland and Sweden — domestic tourists accounted for a majority of the overnight stays in the capital city region too. By contrast, the total number of nights spent by international tourists outnumbered those of domestic tourists in both Croatian regions, as well as in five out of the six (relatively small) mono-regional EU Member States — Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg and Malta — the exception being Lithuania.
Berlin grew quickly in popularity during the most recent decade, both for domestic and international tourists
The top 20 tourist regions — in terms of nights spent by domestic and international tourists in all types of tourist accommodation — are shown in Figure 4. These 20 regions together accounted for more than one third (36.9 %) of the total number of overnight stays across the whole of the EU in 2015. A majority (60.7 %) of the nights spent in these 20 most popular tourist regions were accounted for by international tourists, suggesting there could be considerable pressure on sustainability issues from mass tourism, particularly during high/peak seasons, during the summer months for coastal regions or the period between Christmas and Easter in Alpine regions.
As already noted, in 2015, Canarias had the highest number (94.0 million nights) of overnight stays in tourist accommodation among any of the NUTS level 2 regions of the EU; a closer analysis reveals that international tourists accounted for an overwhelming majority (88.3 %) of these. In a similar vein, international tourists accounted for a majority of the total number of nights spent in tourist accommodation in 12 of the top 20 most popular tourist regions: of these, the highest shares for international tourists were recorded in Jadranska Hrvatska (93.2 %), Illes Balears (90.9 %) and Tirol (90.4 %).
The highest absolute number of overnight stays made by domestic tourists was recorded in the southern French region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, at 35.9 million in 2015, equivalent to almost two thirds (65.8 %) of the total number of overnight stays in this region. Seven more of the top 20 most popular tourist regions in the EU recorded a higher proportion of nights spent by domestic (compared with international) tourists, they included: three additional regions from southern France, Rhône-Alpes (70.7 %), Aquitaine (76.4 %) and Languedoc-Roussillon (76.6 %); two German regions, Berlin (54.7 %) and Oberbayern (68.5 %); and Comunidad Valenciana (51.0 %) in Spain and Emilia-Romagna (73.7 %) in Italy.
A time series analysis between 2005 and 2015 reveals that among the top 20 most popular tourist regions in the EU, only Lazio, the Italian capital city region, observed a reduction in its total number of overnight stays, with a modest decline in the number of nights spent by domestic tourists (-0.4 % per annum) that slightly outweighed a small increase of 0.2 % per annum for international tourists. Aside from Lazio, there were four other regions among the top 20 which recorded a fall in their total number of overnight stays by domestic tourists: two additional Italian regions (Emilia-Romagna and Veneto) and two Spanish regions (Canarias and Illes Balears). However, in all four cases, the growth in international tourism more than made up for the decline in domestic tourism. During the period 2005–2015 the fastest expansions in the number of overnight stays by domestic tourists were recorded in the French regions of Rhône-Alpes (7.0 % per annum), Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (5.9 % per annum) and Aquitaine (5.1 % per annum), as well as in Berlin (5.5 % per annum). These figures tend to suggest that the relatively high inclination of French tourists to holiday in some of the most popular regions in their own country was a growing (rather than fading) pattern.
Between 2005 and 2015, there was a positive development to the overall number of nights spent by international tourists in each of the top 20 most popular tourist regions of the EU. The fastest growth rate was recorded in Berlin (10.5 % per annum), followed by Jadranska Hrvatska (7.1 % per annum) and London (6.2 % per annum; data are for the period 2005–2012 and for a NUTS level 1 region). Combining the impact of domestic and international tourists, Berlin recorded the most rapid expansion in its total number of overnight stays, rising on average by 7.5 % per annum during the period under consideration.
Capital city regions were rarely the most popular region for domestic tourists
Table 1 shows separately for domestic (resident) and international (non-resident) tourists, which NUTS level 2 regions had the most overnight stays in tourist accommodation. As shown, many tourists have a preference for visiting regions with a coastline and this is, by definition, the case for 10 of the EU Member States which are characterised by all of their NUTS 2 regions having a coastline. Half of these have more than one region and among these there was a north–south divide apparent: international tourists were most likely to visit the capital city regions of Denmark, Ireland, Finland and Sweden; in Portugal the most popular destination for international tourists was the southern region of Algarve which is characterised by a high number of popular resorts. By contrast, among domestic tourists, regions other than the capital city region were generally more popular, except in Ireland.
Among the four landlocked EU Member States with more than one region, the most popular regions for international tourists were also capital city regions in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, whereas international tourists spent a higher number of nights in the Alpine region of Tirol compared with Wien, the Austrian capital city region; 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 (capital) cities are often shorter, for example, if they are for a business meeting or for a (long) weekend. Among domestic tourists in the four landlocked EU Member States with more than one region, regions other than the capital city region were again the most popular destinations.
Of the remaining 13 EU Member States — that were neither landlocked nor completely coastal — the most visited region was generally different for domestic and international tourists. There were three exceptions where the same region was most popular for both types of tourists: the Black Sea coastal region of Yugoiztochen (Bulgaria), the Adriatic coastline and islands of Jadranska Hrvatska (Croatia), and the Baltic Sea coastal and lakeland region of Zachodniopomorskie (Poland). The capital city regions of Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia and the United Kingdom (note that the data presented refer to 2012 and to a NUTS level 1 region) attracted more international tourists than any other region in these Member States. By contrast, the most popular regions for international tourists in each of the remaining Member States were all coastal regions: along with the Bulgarian, Croatian and Polish regions mentioned above, the others were Kriti (Greece), Canarias (Spain) and Veneto (Italy). Among domestic tourists, coastal regions often occupied the position of being the most popular destinations in these 13 Member States, the only exceptions were the central and relatively large Dutch region of Gelderland (whose capital city is Arnhem) and the eastern Slovenian region of Vzhodna Slovenija (whose attractions include the Alps, wine-growing areas, natural spas and considerable biodiversity, as well as the second city of Maribor).
International tourism was generally more concentrated than domestic tourism
There tended to be a relatively high concentration of international tourism within the most popular regions, whereas domestic tourism was often more dispersed across regions; this pattern was particularly apparent in some of the larger EU Member States and may be explained, at least in part, by a high share of international (first-time) visitors choosing to focus their trips on the most popular or well-known tourist sights. For example, in 2015 Île de France (the capital city region) accounted for approximately one third (33.1 %) of the total nights spent by international tourists in the whole of France, whereas the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur accounted for 12.8 % of the total nights spent by domestic tourists. In a similar vein, Praha (the capital city region) accounted for 61.6 % of the total nights spent by international tourists in the Czech Republic, while the most popular region for domestic tourists was Severovýchod (24.3 % of the national total). Belgium and Slovakia were exceptions to this rule, insofar as they both reported a higher concentration of nights spent by domestic (rather than international) tourists in their most popular regions, namely, the coastal region of the Prov. West-Vlaanderen (which accounted for 40.4 % of all nights spent by Belgians in their own country) and the central region of Stredné Slovensko (35.2 % of the overnights stays of domestic tourists in Slovakia).
Sustainable tourism involves the preservation and enhancement of cultural and natural heritage, including the arts, gastronomy or the preservation of biodiversity. The success of tourism is, in the long-term, closely linked to its sustainability, with the quality of destinations often influenced by their natural and cultural environment and/or integration into the local community.
Tourism intensity and tourism density (defined here as the relationship between the total number of nights spent and the total area of each region) provide two measures that may be used to analyse sustainability issues linked to tourism pressures. Tourism intensity averaged 5 292 nights spent in EU-28 tourist accommodation establishments per 1 000 inhabitants in 2015, while tourism density was 597 nights spent per square kilometre (km²). Map 2 shows the distribution of tourism intensity rates across the EU, with the highest concentrations often recorded in popular coastal regions or regions that may be characterised by their relatively low number of inhabitants. Map 3 shows that regional tourism density ratios usually peaked in capital city regions, where space is generally at a premium.
Looking in more detail, there were 18 NUTS level 2 regions (as shown by the darkest shade of blue in Map 2) where the tourism intensity ratio was at least 20 000 nights per 1 000 inhabitants in 2015. The highest ratio was recorded in the Greek island region of Notio Aigaio (which covers the Cyclades and Dodecanese island groups and includes the popular holiday destinations of Paros, Thira (Santorini), Mykonos and Rodos), its ratio peaked at 69 777 overnight stays per 1 000 inhabitants. There followed three regions with similar ratios, as tourism intensity averaged 56 000–58 000 nights spent per 1 000 inhabitants in two further island regions — Illes Balears in Spain and Ionia Nisia in Greece (which includes Corfu) — as well as the Alpine region of Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano/Bozen in northern Italy. There were five regions that recorded ratios within the range of 40 000–50 000 nights spent per 1 000 inhabitants, including: one further island region, Canarias in Spain; two further Alpine regions, Tirol and Salzburg, both in Austria; and two coastal regions, Jadranska Hrvatska (Croatia) and Algarve (southern Portugal).
Across the 22 multi-regional EU Member States for which data are available, the highest regional tourism intensity ratios were predominantly recorded for island/coastal regions, but also included: three capital city regions in eastern (landlocked) Member States, Praha (the Czech Republic), Zahodna Slovenija (Slovenia) and Bratislavský kraj (Slovakia); two Alpine regions, Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano/Bozen (Italy) and Tirol (Austria); as well as Nyugat-Dunántúl (the westernmost region of Hungary), Centru (Romania) and Mellersta Norrland (northern Sweden).
In 2015, regional tourism density rose above 5 000 nights spent per km² in 17 NUTS level 2 regions of the EU (as shown by the darkest shade of blue in Map 3). The highest density ratio was recorded in Région de Bruxelles-Capitale/Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (40 020 overnight stays per km²), the Belgian capital city region, followed by five other capital city regions: London (38 093 nights spent per km²; data are for 2012 and refer to a NUTS level 1 region), Wien (34 204), Berlin (33 742), Praha (32 091) and Malta (28 267; a single region at this level of detail). There were only four other regions in the EU where tourism density was higher than 10 000 overnight stays per 1 000 inhabitants: the largely urbanised northern German region of Hamburg, and three Spanish regions — Illes Balears, Canarias and Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla — that were located off the mainland.
An analysis for the multi-regional EU Member States reveals that capital city regions tended to record the highest tourism density ratios: this pattern held in 15 of the 21 of the Member States for which data are available. The exceptions included the Black Sea coastal region of Severoiztochen (Bulgaria), Ionia Nisia (Greece), Illes Balears (Spain), Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano/Bozen (Italy), Malopolskie in southern Poland (which includes Kraków) and Algarve (Portugal).
Bedroom occupancy rates
Of the estimated 578 thousand tourist accommodation establishments in the EU-28 in 2015, just under one third (32.3 %) were hotels and similar establishments. These 187 thousand hotels and similar establishments provided a total of 6.6 million bedrooms and 13.5 million bed places, equivalent to an average of 35.4 bedrooms and 72.4 bed places per establishment; note these ratios are likely to be overstated as many national statistical authorities apply a threshold (for example, only collecting data from establishments with at least 10 bed places) and therefore exclude smaller establishments. 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 providing accommodation services are more likely to be interested in net occupancy rates for bedrooms or beds.
Occupancy in urban regions is 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 stay is generally substantially longer in more traditional holiday destinations, with these coastal and rural regions visited chiefly for recreational purposes. Tourism demand for trips to these regions is usually 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 and smaller peaks that may coincide with other public or school holiday periods. Note that some hotels and similar establishments in 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.
Bedroom occupancy rates were highest in London
A regional analysis of bedroom occupancy rates in hotels and similar establishments reveals that of the 262 NUTS level 2 regions for which data are available, a majority (148) reported bedroom occupancy rates of at least 50 % in 2015, while there were 114 regions with rates below 50 %. The darkest shade of blue in Map 4 identifies the 27 NUTS level 2 regions which recorded bedroom occupancy rates of at least 65 % in 2015. Among these, the highest rate was recorded in Nord-Vest (northern Transylvanian) Romania, an area characterised by its expanding tourism sector (based around national and natural parks, mountain resorts, thermal waters, historic monuments and characteristic wooden structures) and by foreign direct investment in, among others, ICT sectors and motor vehicle manufacturing; its net bedroom occupancy rate was 88.9 %. There were two other regions in the EU which recorded occupancy rates of more than 80 %, namely: London (81.7 %; the data presented refer to 2013 and to a NUTS level 1 region) and Canarias (81.2 %), which appeals as a year-round destination due to very mild winters and the cooling influence of the Atlantic Ocean during the summer months.
In total, there were 10 capital city regions which recorded bedroom occupancy rates of at least 65 % in 2015. A closer analysis of the 27 regions with the highest rates reveals that they were predominantly located in western EU regions, as they included seven regions from the United Kingdom (2013 data), five regions from the Netherlands, three regions from Germany, two regions from Belgium and single regions from each of Ireland and France. The remaining regions were distributed across the EU as follows: five regions from southern Europe, three in Spain, a single Italian region, and Malta (one region at this level of detail); two regions from the Nordic Member States, the capital city regions of Denmark (Hovedstaden) and Sweden (Stockholm); and a single eastern region (as mentioned above), Nord-Vest in Romania.
At the other end of the range, there were 32 regions in the EU where the net occupancy rate for bedrooms was below 35 % (as shown by the lightest shade of blue in Map 4). These were principally concentrated in southern and eastern regions of the EU, with the lowest rate of 17.3 % recorded in the northern Greek region of Dytiki Makedonia, which was the only region where less than one out of five available bedrooms was occupied in 2015. The only region among these 32 that was outside of southern and eastern EU regions was Tees Valley and Durham (in the United Kingdom), where a bedroom occupancy rate of 31.6 % was recorded (2013 data).
Figure 5 confirms that capital city regions tended to record some of the highest bedroom occupancy rates; this pattern was repeated in just over half (12 out of 21) of the multi-regional EU Member States for which data are available in 2015. In those cases where the capital city region did not exhibit the highest rate, the occupancy rate of the capital city region was, nevertheless, generally above the national average. There were three exceptions to this rule, as Yugozapaden (Bulgaria), Kontinentalna Hrvatska (Croatia) and Lazio (Italy) each recorded bedroom occupancy rates below their respective national averages; a similar pattern was observed for Bern, the Swiss capital city.
An analysis of the ratio between the highest and lowest bedroom occupancy rates in each EU Member State for 2015 reveals considerable variations across the regions of Greece and Romania, as the highest occupancy rates were recorded in Kriti and Nord-Vest, some 3.4 times as high as those recorded in Dytiki Makedonia and Centru (where the lowest rates were registered). There were also relatively large discrepancies between the highest and lowest regional occupancy rates in Bulgaria, Spain and the United Kingdom (2013 data).
In 2015, the lowest regional occupancy rate in each of the EU Member States was generally below 50 %, with the only exceptions in Ireland (which only has two regions at this level of detail) and the Netherlands; the net occupancy rate for bedrooms in hotels and similar establishments was 63.0 % in Border, Midland and Western (Ireland) and 50.7 % in Friesland (north-west of the Netherlands), which were the regions with the lowest rates in these Member States. As noted above, the lowest regional bedroom occupancy rate in the EU was recorded in the northern Greek region of Dytiki Makedonia, while the lowest regional rate was below 30 % in four additional Member States, namely, Severen tsentralen (northern Bulgaria), Centru (central Romania), Alentejo (southern Portugal) and Moravskoslezsko (eastern Czech Republic).
Data sources and availability
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).
Regional tourism statistics are only available from suppliers of tourism services; they are collected through surveys of tourist accommodation establishments. These surveys provide information that covers accommodation capacity (counts of establishments, rooms and bed places) and occupancy (the number of arrivals and nights spent/overnight stays) at NUTS level 2, by degree of urbanisation and for coastal/non-coastal localities.
Tourism statistics may be broken down according to the tourist’s country of residence (not the tourist’s citizenship): domestic tourism covers the activities of residents who stay in their own country (but outside their usual environment) and this may be contrasted with the activities of international tourists (also referred to as inbound or non-resident tourists).
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. These establishments are defined according to the activity classification, NACE, as units providing, short-term or short-stay accommodation services as a paid service:
- hotels and similar accommodation (NACE Group 55.1) — this includes accommodation provided by hotels, resort hotels, suite/apartment hotels, motels;
- holiday and other short-stay accommodation (NACE Group 55.2) — this includes holiday homes, visitor flats and bungalows, cottages and cabins without housekeeping services, youth hostels and mountain refuges;
- camping grounds, recreational vehicle parks and trailer parks (NACE Group 55.3), 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.
The data presented in this article are based exclusively on the 2013 version of NUTS. Nearly all of the regional data were available in NUTS 2013, and only data for London (the United Kingdom) have been converted from NUTS 2010 with the consequence that data are shown at NUTS level 1 instead of NUTS level 2.
Glossary entries on Statistics Explained are available for a wide range of tourism concepts/indicators, including: tourist accommodation establishments, hotels and similar accommodation, nights spent, the net occupancy rate or coastal areas.
Tourism has the potential to play a significant role in the economic aspirations of many EU regions: it can be of particular importance in remote/peripheral regions, such as the EU’s island states and regions, as well as in coastal and Alpine regions.
Defining the scope of tourism
It is important to note that the statistical definition of tourism is wider than the common everyday definition, as it encompasses not only private trips but also business trips. This is primarily because tourism is viewed from an economic perspective, whereby holidaymakers and people making business trips have broadly similar consumption patterns (transport, accommodation and restaurant/catering services).
The number of tourist nights spent/overnight stays provides information pertaining to each night a guest/tourist actually spends (sleeps or stays) in a tourist accommodation establishment. It therefore measures both the length of stay and the number of visitors and is considered a key indicator for analyses.
A European Commission communication titled ‘Europe, the world’s No. 1 tourist destination — a new political framework for tourism in Europe’ (COM(2010) 352 final) was adopted in June 2010; it provides a framework for the development of tourism within Europe, with four priority areas for action, to: stimulate competitiveness; promote sustainable and responsible tourism; consolidate Europe’s image as a collection of sustainable, high-quality destinations; maximise the potential of EU policies and financial instruments for developing tourism. The European Commission has encouraged the diversification of Europe’s tourism offer through initiatives relating to maritime/coastal tourism, sustainable tourism, cultural tourism, tourism for all, accessible tourism, low-season tourism or collaborative tourism and it seeks to maintain Europe’s position as the world’s leading tourist destination, while maximising the contribution of the tourism industry to growth and employment, through making a wide range of EU funds available during the period 2014–2020. Furthermore, the European Commission provides 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 creation and maintenance of websites such as visiteurope.com and tastingeurope.com.
To enhance the visibility of Europe as a tourist destination and increase international tourist arrivals, the European Commission undertakes a wide range of communication and promotion activities, among which 2018 has been pronounced the EU–China tourism year, which is seen as an opportunity to increase visitor numbers and investment, while encouraging EU and Chinese citizens to get to know each other. The EU’s main priorities include: supporting cooperative marketing campaigns that show Chinese visitors what the EU has to offer; helping domestic tourist industries to be ‘China-ready’; and facilitating business summits and contacts/meetings.
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 final), 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 — opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth’ (COM(2012) 494 final).
Further Eurostat information
- Regional tourism statistics (t_reg_tour)
- Annual data on tourism industries (t_tour_inda)
- Occupancy of tourist accommodation establishments (t_tour_occ)
- Nights spent at tourist accommodation establishments by NUTS 2 regions (tgs00111)
- Nights spent at tourist accommodation establishments by degree of urbanisation (from 2012 onwards) (tin00179)
- Capacity of tourist accommodation establishments (t_tour_cap)
- Number of establishments and bed-places by NUTS 2 regions (tgs00112)
- Number of bed-places by degree of urbanisation (from 2012 onwards) (tin00184)
- Occupancy of tourist accommodation establishments (t_tour_occ)
- 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)
- Tourism (tour), see:
- 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)
- Occupancy of tourism accommodation establishments (tour_occ)
Methodology / Metadata
- Capacity and occupancy of tourist accommodation establishments (ESMS metadata file — tour_occ_esms)
- Methodological manual for tourism statistics — 2013 edition
- Tourism - Methodology - Manuals and guidelines
- Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSAs) in Europe — 2013 edition
- Tourism statistics in the European statistical system — 2008 data, 2010 edition
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)
- Council Directive 95/57/EC of 23 November 1995 on the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism
- 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
- UNWTO tourism highlights — 2015 edition