Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Traditional European markets

Traditional European markets

In the European Union (EU), tourism is above all an internal affair. According to Eurostat nearly 90% of tourist nights in the EU are spent by EU residents, meaning that tourists from outside the EU account for only around 10% of the total.

Germany, France, the UK, Italy and, in recent years, the Netherlands provide the greatest outbound tourism flow in the EU. It is therefore essential to know the key characteristics of these geographical markets so that you can tailor your tourism products accordingly.

In this article, we will discuss:

Key data of traditional European markets

Statistics from Eurostat show that 263 million EU residents engaged in tourism in 2015, representing 61% of the total population. Roughly half of this figure made domestic and outbound trips, with the other half making domestic trips only.

The 5 countries with the highest numbers of residents making outbound trips were:

  • Germany – 28 million residents went on outbound holidays, representing 35% of total EU cross-border trips
  • United Kingdom – 14 million residents went on outbound holidays, representing a share of 18% at EU level
  • France – 9 million residents went on outbound holidays, accounting for 11% of the share
  • The Netherlands – 7 million residents went on outbound holidays, accounting for 9% of EU cross-border tourism
  • Italy – 3 million residents went on outbound holidays, making them the fifth largest outbound market within the EU and accounting for 4% of the share

According to UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Germany, the UK, France and Italy also make up part of the world’s top 10 major markets for international tourism expenditure. Germany leads Europe in total expenditure, with €72 billion spent on tourism in 2016, second only to the United States and China.

For key statistical data on the European tourism sector, visit the EU Virtual Tourism Observatory. There are further tourism statistics available from Eurostat

Characteristics, behaviour and tastes

Germany

German citizens enjoy a high standard of living and regularly travel overseas – typically once a year between May and September.

As the EU country with the largest population, Germany is one of the world’s largest outbound tourism markets.

In 2016, Germany’s international tourism expenditure totalled €72 billion, ranking the country in third place globally (coming after China and the United States).

Germans travel to relax and escape routine, often seeking good weather, fun and nature. They also look for good value for money.

Germans typically organise their holidays 2 to 6 months in advance, and prefer package tourism to customised travel. They get travel advice from family and friends, and increasingly use the internet for destination information.

Their main reasons for going on holiday are (in order of importance):

  • sun and beach
  • visiting family and friends
  • nature (e.g. mountains, lakes, landscapes, etc.)
  • culture (e.g. religion, gastronomy, arts, etc.)
  • city trips
  • wellness and spa
  • sport-related activities (e.g. scuba diving, cycling)
  • specific events (e.g. sport events, festivals, clubbing)

The most popular travel destinations for Germans are:

  • Europe – Austria, Italy and Spain
  • long haul – the USA, Southeast Asia and Egypt  

Germans prefer hotel accommodation to other types of tourist accommodation.

United Kingdom

Travel and tourism is an important part of life in Britain and the number of outgoing trips from the UK increases year-on-year. The British often take 1 long-haul and 1 short-haul trip each year, usually in the summer. The UK is one of the world’s largest outbound tourism markets with a total international tourism expenditure of €57 billion in 2016.

The British usually choose to travel independently and tend to avoid package deals. They like online methods of booking, although brick-and-mortar travel agencies are still popular. The internet and social media channels help them to source information, although friends and family are the main source for their preferred choices.

When travelling, the British mainly seek recreation, relaxation, time with family and beach locations. They enjoy holidays that include historic monuments and towns, gastronomy, sightseeing trips, sporting activities and shopping. They return to destinations that have natural resources, good quality accommodation, good value and kind treatment. 

Their main reasons for going on holiday are (in order of importance):

  • visiting family and friends
  • sun and beach
  • culture (e.g. religion, gastronomy, arts, etc.)
  • nature (e.g. mountains, lakes, landscapes, etc.)
  • city trips
  • specific events (e.g. sport events, festivals, clubbing)
  • sport-related activities (e.g. scuba diving, cycling)
  • wellness and spa

The most popular travel destinations for British residents are:

  • Europe – Spain, France, Italy and Turkey  
  • long haul – Southeast Asia, Egypt and Tunisia

British tourists are most keen on 4-star hotel accommodation.

France

France is an important outbound tourism market and placed sixth worldwide in terms of international tourism expenditure in 2016, spending €36 billion. The French travel frequently on short trips, and most often during the summer. There is an especially high number of female travellers aged between 25 and 44.

The French prefer to organise their trips on an individual basis and often use the internet to make bookings. They seek recommendations from friends and family, as well as the internet, and research their destinations thoroughly. Last-minute trips have recently also become very popular.

When they travel, French tourists often seek natural scenic beauty, the exploration of new places, good weather, famous landmarks and cultural locations. They tend to look for varied travel experiences during their time overseas.

Their main reasons for going on holiday are (in order of importance):

  • visiting family and friends
  • sun and beach
  • nature (e.g. mountains, lakes, landscapes, etc.)
  • culture (e.g. religion, gastronomy, arts, etc.)
  • city trips
  • wellness and spa
  • sport-related activities (e.g. scuba diving, cycling)
  • specific events (e.g. sport events, festivals, clubbing)

The most popular travel destinations for French residents are:

  • Europe – Spain, Italy and the UK

French tourists are most keen on mid-priced hotel accommodation. 

The Netherlands

The Dutch outbound travel market is the largest relative to the population of the country, with 59% of all Dutch tourists travelling outside the Netherlands. This is the EU country with the highest share of residents travelling abroad.

Dutch tourists tend to travel throughout the year.

They usually travel independently, although some specialist markets are sold as package deals through travel agencies. They look for information online or ask travel professionals for advice, while also seeking recommendations from friends and family.

Tailor-made trips and experiential travel is sought after. The Dutch are keen to enjoy warm weather in their travel destination, and appreciate good value. They tend to travel as families or in couples, with the aim of relaxing and escaping their daily routine. 

Their main reasons for going on holiday are (in order of importance):

  • nature (e.g. mountains, lakes, landscapes, etc.)
  • culture (e.g. religion, gastronomy, arts, etc.)
  • sun and beach
  • visiting family and friends
  • city trips
  • sport-related activities (e.g. scuba diving, cycling)
  • specific events (e.g. sport events, festivals, clubbing)
  •  wellness and spa

The most popular travel destinations for the Dutch are:

  • Europe – Germany, France and Spain

The Dutch especially enjoy staying at campsites.

Italy

Travel is a ‘prime necessity’ for Italians and they travel regularly.

In 2016 Italy ranked eighth worldwide in international tourism expenditure, spending €22 billion. Seasonal travel is high, with long trips taken in the summer and other short trips throughout the year. Trends are based on age and purchasing power.

Italians tend to organise travel independently and online. They prefer non-package deals, and seek advice from family and friends, as well as the internet. They like destinations that are accessible by car.

Their main reasons for going on holiday are (in order of importance):

  • sun and beach
  • city trips
  • culture (e.g. religion, gastronomy, arts, etc.)
  • visiting family and friends
  • nature (e.g. mountains, lakes, landscapes, etc.)
  • wellness and spa
  • sport-related activities (e.g. scuba diving, cycling)
  • specific events (e.g. sport events, festivals, clubbing)

The most popular travel destinations for Italians are:

  • Europe – France, Spain, Turkey and Croatia

Italians look for mid-priced accommodation and often in 3-star hotels or holiday apartments.

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