Tourism statistics - annual results for the accommodation sector
Data extracted in November 2019.
Planned article update: November 2020.
The number of nights spent in tourist accommodation in the EU continued to grow in 2018 (2.5 %), reaching more than 3.1 billion nights.
German and British tourists accounted for nearly one in three non-resident nights in EU tourist accommodation in 2018.
Trends in nights spent in EU-28 tourist accommodation establishments, EU-28, 2005-2018 (index_2005=100)
Over the period 2005-2018, the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments in the EU grew by 40 %. In particular, there were significant increases in the number of nights spent by non-residents (+ 59 %) while the number of nights spent by residents during domestic trips increased by 26 %.
Continuous growth in the tourist accommodation sector
Following increases of around 4 % in 2015 and in 2016 and 5 % in 2017, the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation in the EU continued to grow in 2018, by 2.5 %, reaching more than 3.1 billion nights (see Figure 1).
More than two out of three of these nights were spent in five Member States: Spain (15 %) , France (14 %), Italy (14 %), Germany (13 %) and the United Kingdom (11 %), (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 Denmark, Luxembourg, 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 2018. The number of nights spent in hotels increased by 2.4 %. Nights spent in holiday and other short-stay accommodation and nights spent at campsites increased by 3.6 % and 1.3 % respectively (see Table 2).
The increase at EU level reflected national developments. Spain was the only Member State reporting a decrease (-0.9 %) in 2018. Lithuania recorded the highest growth (+9.9 %) followed by Latvia (+8.4 %) (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 2018 was due to the increase of nights spent by foreign visitors (+3.0 %) but also of nights spent by residents (+2.1 %) (see Table 2 and Figure 3).
The nights spent by non-residents grew by +6.5 % in 2017 and increased further by +3.0 % in 2018. Belgium recorded the higest growth (+10.2 %) in 2018 compared with 2017, while a decrease was observed in Spain (-1.6 %) (see Figure 3).
Following an increase of 4.5 % in 2017, the number of nights spent by domestic tourists in the EU increased further in 2018 (+2.1 %). The biggest increase was recorded in Lithuania (+10.7 %), while a drop was recorded in two Member States: Greece (-6.6 %) and the United Kingdom (-0.4 %) (see Figure 3).
Taking into account the population of the country (tourism intensity), Croatia (21.8 nights), Malta (21.3 nights) and Cyprus (19.9 nights) recorded the highest number of nights spent per inhabitant over the year 2018. In the EU, an average of 6.1 guest nights was recorded in relation to the overall population of 512.4 million in 2018 (see Figure 4).
The top 20 regions represented 34.9 % of all nights spent
The top destination country (Spain) accounted for 15 % of all guest nights in EU rented accommodation in the year 2018. Looking at regional data, the top region at NUTS 2 level attracted more than 3 % of all guest nights in the EU during 2018. This region was the Canary Islands, followed by the French capital city region of Île de France, the Adriatic coastal region of Jadranska Hrvatska in Croatia and Catalonia in Spain (see Table 3).
In 2018, the top 20 regions represented 34.5 % of all nights spent in the 281 regions of the EU (see Table 3).
German tourists accounted for 18.4 % of all nights spent by non-residents in EU tourist accommodation
In 2018, 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 (74 %), while 8 % were spent by tourists coming from other European countries. Only 18 % of non-resident nights were spent by tourists from other continents (See Figure 6).
German residents accounted for 18.4 % of the total non-resident nights in EU tourist accommodation, followed by British (11.4 %) and Dutch (6.0 %) tourists (see Table 4). For 10 out of the 27 Member States - excluding the German domestic market - the greatest number of tourists came from Germany. For 16 out of the 17 remaining Member States, nights spent by German tourists were their second or third market, while they were the fourth market for the United Kingdom.
Figure 7 looks at the development of nights spent by residents of five individual non-EU countries in EU-28 tourist accommodation over the period 2005-2018. In 2018, nearly 10 % of all nights spent by non-residents in EU tourist accommodation were spent by tourists from the United States (4.9 %), Russia (2.1 %), China (1.6 %), Brazil (0.7 %) and Japan (0.6 %). 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 59 % during the period 2005-2018. Nights spent by residents of Russia, Brazil and China showed significantly higher growth rates – in particular since 2009 – at least tripling their market share over this period. In 2018 these three countries generated 4.4 % of all nights spent by non-residents in the EU accommodation sector or 17.1 % 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 2018, nearly half of the nights spent in EU tourist accommodation (46 %) 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 Germany, Romania and Slovenia. When distinguishing by type of accommodation, coastal tourism was particularly important for campsites, with 61 % 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, the United Kingdom 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 Austria, Greece, Croatia and Denmark the thinly populated municipalities were far more popular – very likely because of the importance of the mountains or the seaside for the tourism sector in these countries.
More than 32 million bed places in EU tourist accommodation
In 2018, the EU could offer 32.2 million bed places to accommodate tourists, spread over nearly 685 000 establishments. In terms of bed places, France and Italy (5.1 million bed places each) accounted for nearly 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, 65 % of hotels and similar accommodation establishments had 25 bedrooms or fewer, 28 % had between 25 and 99 and 7 % were large establishments with a capacity of 100 or more bedrooms (see Table 7).
Average occupancy rate of bed places in hotels was 47 %
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 47 % in 2018. The highest occupancy rates were recorded in Cyprus (74 %), Malta (68 %), Spain (62 %) 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 78 %, followed by the Netherlands (73 %).
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.
- 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)