Tourism statistics - annual results for the accommodation sector
Data extracted in October 2020.
Planned article update: 29 June 2022.
The number of nights spent in tourist accommodation in the EU continued to grow in 2019 (2.5 %), reaching nearly 2.9 billion nights.
German and British tourists accounted for more than one in three non-resident nights in EU tourist accommodation in 2019.
Trends in nights spent in EU-27 tourist accommodation establishments, EU-27, 2005-2019
Over the period 2005-2019, the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments in the EU grew by 44 %. In particular, there were significant increases in the number of nights spent by non-residents (+ 58 %) while the number of nights spent by residents during domestic trips increased by 33 %.
Continuous growth in the tourist accommodation sector
Following increases of 5 % in 2017 and 3 % in 2018, the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation in the EU continued to grow in 2019, by 2.5 %, reaching almost 2.9 billion nights (see Figure 1).
More than three out of five of these nights were spent in four Member States: Spain (16.3 %), France (15.5 %), Italy and Germany both 15.2 % (see Table 1).
Looking at the distribution by type of accommodation, hotels and similar accommodation were clearly the most popular (64 %), followed by holiday and other short-stay accommodation such as rented apartments (23 %) and camping grounds, recreational vehicle parks and trailer parks (13 %). However, there were significant regional differences: in Cyprus, Malta and Bulgaria, hotels covered more than 90 % of the entire market for rented accommodation; more than half of the tourism nights in Croatia were spent in holiday and other short-stay accommodation, while in Luxembourg, Denmark, France and Sweden the market share of campsites was more than double the average for the whole of the EU.
All three types of tourist accommodation showed increases for 2019. The number of nights spent in hotels increased by 1.8 %. Nights spent in holiday and other short-stay accommodation and nights spent at campsites increased by 4.3 % and 2.5 % respectively (see Table 2).
In 2019 the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments increased in almost all EU countries. Luxembourg and Malta were the only Member States reporting a decrease (-2.3 % and -2.0 % respectively). Slovakia recorded the highest growth (+13.4 %) followed by Lithuania (+10.6 %) (see Figure 2 and Table 2).
Increase in nights spent due to residents and non-residents
The overall increase of 2.5 % for nights spent in 2019 was due to the increase of nights spent by residents (+3.5 %) but also of nights spent by foreign visitors (+1.3 %) (see Table 2 and Figure 3).
The nights spent by non-residents grew by +4.0 % in 2018 and increased further by +1.3 % in 2019. Lithuania recorded the highest growth (+10.9 %) in 2019 compared with 2018, followed by the Netherlands (+10.1 %), while drops were observed in France, Luxembourg, Malta, Bulgaria, Romania and Spain (see Figure 3).
Following an increase of 2.8 % in 2018, the number of nights spent by domestic tourists in the EU increased further in 2019 (+3.5 %). The highest increase was recorded in Slovakia (+16.1 %), while a drop was recorded in three Member States: Slovenia (-2.5 %), Greece (-1.8 %) and Hungary (-0.2 %) (see Figure 3).
Taking into account the population of the country (tourism intensity), Croatia (22.4 nights), Malta (20.1 nights) and Cyprus (20.1 nights) recorded the highest number of nights spent per inhabitant over the year 2019. In the EU, an average of 6.4 guest nights was recorded in relation to the overall population of 446.8 million in 2019 (see Figure 4).
The top 20 regions represented nearly 39 % of all nights spent in the EU
The top destination country (Spain) accounted for 16 % of all guest nights in EU rented accommodation in the year 2019. Looking at regional data, the top region at NUTS 2 level attracted more than 3 % of all guest nights in the EU during 2019. This region was the Canary Islands, followed by the Adriatic coastal region of Jadranska Hrvatska in Croatia, the French capital city region of Île de France and Catalonia in Spain (see Table 3).
In 2019, the top 20 regions represented 38.5 % of all nights spent in the 281 regions of the EU (see Table 3).
German tourists accounted for one out of every five nights spent by non-residents in EU tourist accommodation
In 2019, more than half (53 %) of nights in tourist accommodation were spent by residents, travelling inside their own country (see Figure 5).
The majority of the 47 % of nights spent by non-residents were by tourists coming from other EU Member States (60 %), while 24 % were spent by tourists coming from other European countries. Only 16 % of non-resident nights were spent by tourists from other continents (See Figure 6).
German residents accounted for 20.3 % of the total non-resident nights in EU tourist accommodation, followed by British (13.5 %) and Dutch (6.4 %) tourists (see Table 4). For 12 out of the 26 Member States - excluding the German domestic market - the greatest number of tourists came from Germany. For the 14 remaining Member States, nights spent by German tourists were their second or third market.
Figure 7 looks at the evolution of nights spent by residents of five individual non-EU countries in EU-27 tourist accommodation over the period 2005-2019. In 2019, 11 % of all nights spent by non-residents in EU tourist accommodation were spent by tourists from the United States (4.7 %), Russia (2.8 %), China (1.6 %), Brazil (0.9 %) and Japan (0.7 %). Among these countries, Russia, Brazil and China are generally considered emerging markets with the potential to increase European tourism in the years and decades to come. Total non-resident nights (regardless of the country of origin of the guest) increased by 58 % during the period 2005-2019. Nights spent by residents of Russia, Brazil and China showed significantly higher growth rates, in particular since 2009. Russia tripled its market share over this period, while China and Brazil increased their market share fivefold. In 2019 these three countries generated 5.3 % of all nights spent by non-residents in the EU accommodation sector or 12.8 % of the nights spent by guests from outside the EU. The other two countries – the United States and Japan – appear to be more saturated generating markets, with a relatively stable number of tourists over the past decade.
Coastal areas accounted for nearly half of all nights spent
In 2019, nearly half of the nights spent in EU tourist accommodation (47 %) were spent in coastal areas (see Table 5). Besides Malta which is 100 % coastal country, this ratio exceeded 90 % in Cyprus, Greece, Croatia and Denmark. Leaving aside the five landlocked countries (Czechia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia), the proportion of coastal areas in total nights spent was below 20 % only in Romania, Slovenia, Belgium and Germany. When distinguishing by type of accommodation, coastal tourism was particularly important for campsites, with 59 % of total nights spent (see Figure 8).
In terms of degree of urbanisation, there was a good balance between nights spent in cities, towns and rural areas, each accounting for roughly one third of the nights spent (see Table 5). National data shows a mix of city tourism and countryside or non-urban coastal tourism. In Latvia and Estonia nights spent in cities accounted for more than 50% of the total number of nights spent in the country. This is very likely due to the relative attractiveness or popularity of the capital regions. In Greece, Austria, Croatia and Denmark the thinly populated municipalities were far more popular – very likely because of the importance of the seaside or the mountains for the tourism sector in these countries.
Nearly 29 million bed places in EU tourist accommodation
In 2019, the EU could offer 28.8 million bed places to accommodate tourists, spread over nearly 618 000 establishments. In terms of bed places, Italy (5.2 million bed places) and France (5.1 million bed places) accounted for more than one third of total available capacity (see Table 6).
The comparability of this data is affected by the fact that countries apply data collection thresholds. In many countries, establishments having fewer than ten bed places are not covered by these statistics, but the threshold applied is not identical across the European Union.
For countries where a breakdown by size class is available, 59 % of hotels and similar accommodation establishments had less than 25 bedrooms, 33 % had between 25 and 99 and 8 % were large establishments with a capacity of 100 or more bedrooms (see Table 7).
Average occupancy rate of bed places in hotels was 50 %
Comparing the capacity data in terms of available beds or rooms with the occupancy data in terms of nights spent gives an indicator of the occupancy rates. At EU level, the net occupancy rate of bed places in hotels was 50 % in 2019. The highest occupancy rates were recorded in Cyprus (72 %), Malta (66 %), Spain (61 %) and Croatia (60 %) (see Table 8, Figure 9).
In terms of bedroom occupancy (regardless of how many guests stayed in the room), hotels in Malta recorded an occupancy rate of 75 %, followed by the Netherlands (72 %).
For most of the countries for which a breakdown by size class is available, occupancy rates increase with the size of the establishments.
Source data for tables and graphs
For the short-term trends in the nights spent at tourist accommodation establishments in the European Union (EU), see Tourism statistics - nights spent at tourist accommodation establishments.
The EU is a major tourist destination, with five Member States among the world’s top ten destinations for holidaymakers, according to UNWTO data. Tourism is an important activity in the EU which contributes to employment and economic growth, as well as to the development of rural, peripheral or less-developed areas. These characteristics drive the demand for reliable and harmonised statistics on this activity, as well as within the wider context of regional policy and sustainable development policy areas.
Direct access to
- Capacity and occupancy of tourist accommodation establishments (ESMS metadata file — tour_occ_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):
- 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 95/57/EC of 23 November 1995 on the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism.
- 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.
- Regional Statistics Illustrated - select statistical domain 'Tourism' (top right)