EU Science Hub

Territorial patterns of tourism intensity and seasonality in the EU


Tourism is an important economic sector for many countries in the EU. It is, however, marked by strong regional and seasonal variations due to landscape, climate or socio-economic differences. This study, based on a novel JRC dataset, delivers new insights concerning prevailing regional patterns of tourism intensity, tourism seasonality and regional vulnerability in the tourism sector EU-wide at unprecedented high spatial and temporal resolutions. The analysis of the data clearly indicates that the relative impact of tourism in Europe and its seasonality vary greatly from country to country and, even more so, from region to region. The Mediterranean islands, various coastal areas, the Alps and especially big cities tend to be major touristic hotspots in the EU during long periods of the year. Cities appear as less vulnerable to shocks in the tourism sector as compared to other areas because their dependence on tourism is relatively low, while they are also less affected by seasonality. Conversely, a number of coastal (Mediterranean, Atlantic, Baltic and Black sea) and mountainous (the Alps and the Pyrenees) areas, as well as the majority of the Mediterranean islands and many Italian regions seem to be highly exposed to tourism and therefore vulnerable to any eventual shocks. Season-wise, not surprisingly summer comes up as the most touristic season in the EU, as it coincides with holiday periods and favourable weather conditions.