Tourism statistics - participation in tourism
Data extracted in June 2020
Planned article update: July 2021
Average number of personal trips per tourist (aged 15 and over), 2018
The article analyses participation in tourism (sometimes called 'tourism propensity'), i.e. the proportion of a given population that makes at least one tourism trip of a specified minimum duration in a given reference period. In this article, the reference period is one year (2018) and the scope is all tourism trips taken for personal purposes (i.e. excluding trips for professional purposes) of at least one overnight stay.
These statistics show how many Europeans participate in tourism following policy initiatives promoting "tourism for all". However, not all "non-tourists" should be considered excluded — some population groups are simply not interested in making tourism trips (as opposed to others whose reasons for not travelling are linked to limiting factors such as their financial situation, physical disabilities or lack of time due to family and/or work commitments).
Nearly two out of three EU residents made tourism trips in 2018
In recent decades, tourism trips have become an important aspect of the lives of many Europeans. Tourism gives people the opportunity to break out from their usual environment and discover other parts of their own country, other countries in Europe or other regions of the world. Tourism thus helps to bring people from different cultures together and fosters mutual respect between different communities within and across countries or continents.
In 2018, 64.4 % of the EU population (aged 15 or over) made at least one tourism trip for personal purposes (see Figure 1 and Table 1). This subpopulation of tourists (not including business trips) made on average 4.2 trips during 2018 (see Figure 2), i.e. the total number of trips made by Europeans divided by the number of those who made tourism trips. More than half of Europeans (54.1 %) made at least one domestic tourism trip with at least one overnight stay in 2018, while one third of Europeans (33.7 %) made at least one trip abroad. Nearly one in four (23.5 %) made domestic trips as well as outbound trips.
When only trips of at least four overnight stays are taken into account— thus excluding tourists whose trips lasted no more than three nights — the participation rate drops to 51.2 % (see pie chart on the right of Figure 1).
In four Member States, more than eight out of ten residents made at least one tourism trip for personal purposes in 2018: Finland (91.0 %), the Netherlands (85.0 %), Sweden (84.9 %) and Luxembourg (81.1 %) (see Table 1 and Figure 3). At the other end, less than half of the residents of Romania (27.0 %), Bulgaria (33.8 %), Greece (42.8 %), Portugal (44.8 %), Italy (44.9 %) and Croatia (46.5 %) participated in tourism.
In the two largest Member States in terms of population, Germany and France, the participation rate was higher than the EU average (75.3 % and 74.3 % respectively); together they accounted for nearly four out of ten European tourists.
Countries with the highest participation rates in domestic tourism (i.e. "domestic trips only" plus "domestic and outbound trips") were Finland (86.3 %), Sweden (71.4 %), Czechia (71.3 %) and France (70.5 %) (see Table 1 and Figure 3). As regards outbound tourism, the highest participation rates were observed among residents of Luxembourg (80.7 %) by far followed by the Netherlands (64.4 %), Estonia (62.2 %), Sweden (61.5 %), Finland (60.7 %), Belgium (60.6 %) and Austria (60.2 %).
Countries whose populations made the highest proportion of domestic trips only (and no outbound trips) during 2018 were France (47.6 %), Spain (43.1 %) and Poland (43.0 %).
Participation in tourism lower in people aged 65 and over
Age had a limited impact on participation in tourism. On average, 64 % of the EU population in all age groups (15 and over) made tourism trips for personal purposes in the course of 2018. The participation rate ranged between 63 % and 72 % in all groups except for those aged 65 or over, where it dropped to 49 %. While persons aged 65 or over represented 24 % of the EU population, they accounted for only 18 % of EU tourists. However, even with a low share of participation in tourism, this age group of 65+ represents more than 43 million tourists (see Figure 4 and Figure 5) who accounted for nearly 1 in 4 tourism nights for private purposes spent by EU residents aged 15 or over in 2018. The statistics explained article Tourism trends and ageing looks closer at senior citizens' tourism behaviour.
In terms of breakdown by destination (domestic, outbound), the pattern was fairly stable across all age groups. Some 84 % of the tourist population in all age groups made at least one domestic trip and around 52 % made at least one outbound trip (see Figure 6).
Half of the Europeans who did not make tourism trips mentioned financial reasons
Data on reasons for not participating in tourism is transmitted to Eurostat every three years. In this article we present data for the reference year 2016. New data for the reference year 2019 will be available in the next revision of this article.
In 2016, nearly half (47 %) of the Europeans who did not participate in tourism reported financial reasons as one of the main reasons (See Table 2 and Figure 7) - please note that respondents could report more than one reason. Around 22 % of non-tourists mentioned health problems, while another 21 % mentioned no motivation to travel as one of the main reasons for not taking holidays. Work or study commitments was mentioned by 16 % of the European non-tourists for not participating in tourism while 13 % mentioned family commitments.
Looking at country level, financial reasons as one of the main reasons for not participating in tourism was the most frequently reported reason in the majority of the Member States. This was the main reason mentioned by three out of four non-tourists in Greece and more than six out of ten non-tourists in Portugal and Croatia. However, in Luxembourg, Austria, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden the most frequent reason for not participating in tourism was not of a financial nature, but rather a lack of interest or motivation to travel. In Czechia and Germany health issues tended to be the main reason to stay at home.
When looking at the differences by age, financial aspects are the main obstacle to taking part in tourism for all age groups expect for the age group 65+ for which health reasons are the most frequently mentioned barrier (46 % of this age group did not travel for health reasons, compared to – on average – 10 % in the other age groups).
The statistics on income and living conditions include an indicator related to tourism which gives the proportion of households that cannot afford to pay for one week of annual holiday away from home during the reference year (see Figure 8 and Figure 9). After a peak of 40.5 % in 2012, this proportion started decreasing in 2013 and reached 29.2 % in 2018.
The data on participation in tourism shows that the proportion of EU residents aged 15 and over that did not participate in any trips of at least four overnight stays dropped by 2.7 percentage points in 2018 (48.8 %) compared with 2017 (51.5 %).
Source data for tables and graphs
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 (EU) No 692/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning European statistics on tourism.
The scope of observation for the data on participation in tourism are the residents of the country, aged 15 or over, and refers only to tourism for personal purposes, excluding trips made for professional reasons.
Data on the reasons for not participating in tourism is transmitted to Eurostat every three years. This article is based on data transmitted in 2017 with 2016 as reference year.
The EU is a major tourist destination, with four 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.
- Tourism (t_tour), see "Annual data on trips of EU residents":
- Tourism (tour), see "Annual data on trips of EU residents", "Participation in tourism".
- Annual data on trips of EU residents (ESMS metadata file — tour_dem_esms)
- With 2012 as reference year:
- Regulation (EU) No 692/2011 of 6 July 2011 concerning European statistics on tourism and repealing Council Directive 95/57/EC (Summary)
- Regulation (EU) No 1051/2011 of 20 October 2011 implementing Regulation (EU) No 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