Accommodation and food service statistics - NACE Rev. 2
Data extracted in May 2022
Planned article update: 17 February 2023
This article presents an overview of statistics for the European Union’s (EU) accommodation and food services sector, as covered by NACE Rev. 2 Section I. These activities make up a significant part of tourism supply, although they also serve local clients and business customers. This article belongs to a set of statistical articles on 'Business economy by sector'.
The accommodation and food services sector recorded value added of €252.4 million in the EU in 2019 and employed almost 11.0 million persons, many of them on a part-time basis and also characterized by a large number of working proprietors and unpaid family workers. The accommodation and food services sector’s contribution to the non-financial business economy (Sections B to J and L to N and Division 95) employment was therefore much higher (8.3 % of the total) than its contribution to value added (3.7 %). Almost 1.9 million enterprises operated in the EU’s accommodation and food services sector with a share of 8.1 % of the total number of enterprises in the non-financial business economy, reflecting the small average size of the enterprises.
Apparent labour productivity of €23 000 per person employed was recorded in 2019 for the EU’s accommodation and food services sector alongside average personnel costs of €18 700 per employee, in both cases the lowest values among any of the NACE sections included within the non-financial business economy. However, both of these indicators are pulled downwards by the traditionally high incidence of part-time employment in the accommodation and food services sector. The wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio is not directly affected by part-time employment as it shows the ratio between value added and total personnel costs without relating this to the number of persons producing the output or receiving wages and salaries. The combination of low productivity and personnel costs in the EU’s accommodation and food services sector led to a wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio of 122.7 % in 2019, which was the third lowest value across the NACE sections within the non-financial business economy and considerably below the average (142.6 %) of the non-financial business economy. By contrast, the gross operating rate which shows the share of turnover that remains after paying for purchased goods and services and personnel costs (in other words, the gross operating surplus) was 13.1 % for the EU’s accommodation and food services sector in 2019. This latter was one third higher than the non-financial business economy average (10.3 %).
According to most structural business indicators, the food and beverages subsector (Division 56) is larger than the accommodation subsector (Division 55). The food and beverages subsector accounted for 80.8 % of all enterprises in the EU’s accommodation and food services sector in 2019, 76.6 % of the persons employed and 64.9 % of sectoral value added.
The low apparent labour productivity figure for the EU’s accommodation and food services sector in 2019 was pulled downwards by the food and beverages subsector, where an average of €19 500 of value was added per person employed, compared with €34 600 within the accommodation subsector. As such, the food and beverages subsector had the lowest apparent labour productivity ratio in 2019 among all NACE divisions within the non-financial business economy. Equally, average personnel costs were lower for the food and beverages subsector (€17 000) than for the accommodation subsector (€24 100). The EU’s food and beverages subsector recorded the lowest level of average personnel costs among the non-financial business economy NACE divisions in 2019. As already noted, many activities in the accommodation and food services sector have a high incidence of part-time employment and wage-adjusted labour productivity is an indicator that is less influenced by this characteristic. The accommodation subsector recorded a wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio of 143.4 %, relatively close to the non-financial business economy average (142.6 %), while the food and beverages subsector recorded a ratio of 114.3 %.
For the gross operating rate, the above average value for the whole of the EU’s accommodation and food sector (13.1 % in 2019) was pulled up by the 18.2 % rate recorded for the accommodation subsector, although the gross operating rate for the food and beverages subsector (10.8 %) was also above the non-financial business economy average (10.3 %).
In absolute terms, Germany recorded the highest level of value added within the accommodation and food services sector in 2019 (€52.7 billion), which was equivalent to 20.9 % of the EU total. France (17.9 %), Spain (14.7 %) and Italy (14.0 %) also contributed more than one tenth of EU value added, while the contribution of the Netherlands was 5.0 %. These five Member States collectively provided 72.5 % of the EU’s value added in the accommodation and food services sector in 2019. In employment terms, this unusually high concentration of activity within the largest EU Member States was similarly visible; as 68.2 % of the accommodation and food services sector’s workforce were employed in top five Member States — see Figure 3.
In Cyprus, 18.4 % of the non-financial business economy employment was active in accommodation and food services in 2019, while this sector accounted for 12.4 % of Cyprus’ non-financial business economy value added — see Figure 2. As such, Cyprus was, by far, the most specialised EU Member State in the accommodation and food services sector. In value added terms, Greece, Croatia, Portugal, Malta and Spain were the next most specialised Member States for accommodation and food services. The EU Member States that were least specialised in the accommodation and food services sector included Poland and Slovakia, where the accommodation and food services sector contributed less than or equal to 2.6 % of non-financial business economy value added.
A further analysis shows that Romania had the highest wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio among the EU Member States in the accommodation and food sector in 2019, at 173.6 %, followed by Cyprus (168.2 %), Malta (161.8 %), Croatia (159.8 %) and Poland (151.7 %). Greece (102.0 %) and Czechia (102.7 %) were the EU Member States with the lowest wage-adjusted labour productivity in the accommodation and food sector.
Size class analysis
The enterprise size structure of the EU’s accommodation and food services sector would appear to be dominated by SMEs (small and medium enterprises) employing less than 250 persons. These enterprises together employed 85.7 % of the EU’s accommodation and food services employment in 2019 and generated 77.1 % of its value added (Figure 4). The importance of large enterprises (employing 250 or more persons) was relatively small, with only 14.3 % of the EU’s total employment and 22.9 % of its value added in the accommodation and food sector.
The share of micro enterprises was particularly high for the EU’s food and beverage services subsector, generating 35.4 % of the value added and contributing to 43.6 % of the total employment in this subsector in 2019.
In 2019, large enterprises in the accommodation and food services sector generated less than one third of value added in all of the EU Member States for which data are available, except for Croatia (40.3 %), where the relative weight of large enterprises was well above the EU average; large enterprises also accounted for a relatively high share of value added in Spain, France, Cyprus and Latvia. The share of value added stemming from medium-sized enterprises exceeded one third of the total in Ireland, Greece and Malta, while small enterprises accounted for more than a third of total value added in Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria and Romania. Micro enterprises generated the largest share of value added in 7 EU Member States, exceeding 40.0 % in Belgium and Italy.
The provision of accommodation services (Division 55) covers hotels and other provision of short-stay accommodation; activities related to the provision of long-term primary residences are excluded and are covered by real estate activities (Section L). The food and beverage services subsector (Division 56) provides complete meals or drinks fit for immediate consumption, regardless of the type of facility supplying the service; sit-down and take-away restaurants are included, as well as bars, canteens and catering services. Note that these activities do not cover the provision of food or drinks that are sold through independent distribution channels, in other words through wholesale or retail trade activities (Section G).
It is important to bear in mind (in keeping with all structural business statistics) that only enterprises for which the provision of accommodation, food or beverages is the principal activity are covered by the statistics presented in this article. Enterprises offering food and drink as a complement to their core business are not included and in some cases meals and beverages may represent a significant secondary activity — for example, the sale of food and beverages in stadiums, cinemas or recreation parks (if these are not operated by separate enterprises).
The analysis presented in this article is based on the main dataset for structural business statistics (SBS), size class data and regional data, all of which are published annually.
The main series provides information for each EU Member State as well as a number of non-member countries at a detailed level according to the activity classification NACE. Data are available for a wide range of variables.
In structural business statistics, size classes are generally defined by the number of persons employed. A limited set of the standard structural business statistics variables (for example, the number of enterprises, turnover, persons employed and value added) are analyzed by size class, mostly down to the three-digit (group) level of NACE. The main size classes used in this article for presenting the results are:
- small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): with 1 to 249 persons employed, further divided into:
- micro enterprises: with less than 10 persons employed;
- small enterprises: with 10 to 49 persons employed;
- medium-sized enterprises: with 50 to 249 persons employed;
- large enterprises: with 250 or more persons employed.
Structural business statistics also include regional data. Regional SBS data are available at NUTS levels 1 and 2 for the EU Member States, Iceland and Norway, mostly down to the two-digit (division) level of NACE. The main variable analyzed in this article is the number of persons employed. The type of statistical unit used for regional SBS data is normally the local unit, which is an enterprise or part of an enterprise situated in a geographically identified place. Local units are classified into sectors (by NACE) normally according to their own main activity, but in some EU Member States the activity code is assigned on the basis of the main activity of the enterprise to which the local unit belongs. The main SBS data series are presented at national level only, and for this national data the statistical unit is the enterprise. It is possible for the principal activity of a local unit to differ from that of the enterprise to which it belongs. Hence, national SBS data from the main series are not necessarily directly comparable with national aggregates compiled from regional SBS.
Tourism plays an important role in Europe and makes a considerable contribution to employment and regional development, as well as a range of other EU objectives, such as sustainable development or the enhancement of natural and cultural heritage.
One of the main characteristics of tourism-related activities is their high income elasticity of demand, which increases or reduces more easily than for many other products or services. As such, spending on tourism generally decreases proportionally faster than consumers’ income during times of economic slowdown. Moreover, political or economic uncertainties (for example, when exchange rates change rapidly) tend to lead to a diversion of tourism demand, resulting in shifts between outbound tourism and domestic tourism. Furthermore, a downturn in economic fortunes is also likely to result in reduced business activity; this in turn may be reflected in fewer business trips and nights spent in hotels, as well as less corporate entertainment.
In June 2010, the European Commission adopted a Communication titled Europe, the world’s No 1 tourist destination — a new political framework for tourism in Europe. This Communication addresses issues such as: the impact of the changing global economy on tourism, as well as various challenges to be faced by the providers of tourism services, such as seasonality of demand or an ageing population. The Communication outlines policies to stimulate competitiveness: to support diversification of tourism supply, develop innovation, improve professional skills, encourage an extension of the tourism season, and consolidate the socio-economic knowledge base for tourism. Further policies concern the promotion of the development of sustainable, responsible and high-quality tourism, the consolidation of the image and profile of Europe as a collection of sustainable and high-quality tourist destinations, and the maximization of the potential of EU financial policies and instruments for developing tourism.
EDEN is an acronym for European Destinations of Excellence, a project run by the European Commission to promote sustainable tourism development models. The project is based on national competitions that take place every year which result in the selection of tourist destinations of excellence in each participating country. The European Commission has been running EDEN since 2006.
Direct access to
- SBS – services (serv)
- Annual detailed enterprise statistics for services (sbs_na_serv)
- Annual detailed enterprise statistics for services (NACE Rev. 2 H-N and S95) (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)
- SMEs - Annual enterprise statistics by size class - services (sbs_sc_sc)
- Services by employment size class (NACE Rev. 2 H-N and S95) (sbs_sc_1b_se_r2)
- Annual detailed enterprise statistics for services (sbs_na_serv)
- SBS - regional data - all activities (sbs_r)
- SBS data by NUTS 2 regions and NACE Rev. 2 (from 2008 onwards) (sbs_r_nuts06_r2)