Main statistical findings

Main statistical findingsIn 2014, the most recent reference year for which complete data was available at the time of writing, residents of the European Union (EU-28 ) made 1 183 million trips (for personal or professional purpose) and spent 6 181 million nights during those trips (see Table 1). Tourist expenditure amounted to EUR 403 124 million.

One in four trips were spent abroad

Three out of four trips (75.0 %) were domestic trips – i. e. trips in the tourist’s own country of residence – but in terms of nights spent and expenditure, domestic trips accounted for 58.5 % and 45.1 % of the total respectively. For most EU countries, the domestic market was dominant; only for Belgium, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovenia this was not the case (see Tables 2 to 5). Belgian and Luxembourgish tourists made more trips to one single foreign country (France – their number one foreign destination) than in their own country.

Spain was the top foreign destination for EU residents in 2014

On average for the EU, 25.0 % of all trips were made in a foreign country: 18.8 % in another EU Member State, 6.2 % outside the Union (see Figure 1). Spain was for EU residents the number one foreign destination, in terms of number of trips as well as number of nights spent or expenditure. 3.0 % of all trips made by Europeans were spent in Spain (or 12.0 % of all trips abroad), followed by France and Italy. Spain was the main destination for one out of three outbound trips of Portuguese residents and for more than one out of five outbound trips of Irish and UK (2013 data) residents.

A neighbouring or nearby country was the preferred foreign destination for trips of nearly all the European tourists. However, this was not the case for tourists from Romania (Italy), Sweden (Spain) and the United Kingdom (Spain). In terms of duration and expenditure, the proximity of the destination became less dominant: further away destinations – also outside Europe – took a bigger share.

Destinations outside Europe made up only 14.6 % of all outbound trips (see Figure 2): 5.4 % to America, 4.7 % to Asia and 4.0 % to Africa. Only 0.5 % of trips had Oceania as a destination. Often, these intercontinental flows were dominated by a few generating countries. Behind the average at EU level, big differences were observed, with more than one in five outbound trips made by French, British or Spanish tourists having a destination outside Europe while no more than 3 % of Romanian, Slovenian or Latvian trips were to another continent.

Tables 2 to 5 present a detailed overview per country, for convenience of presentation split into four geographical zones [1]. In most cases, the choice of destination may be determined by proximity and/or relative attractiveness (e. g. in terms of climate). However, historical migrant flows, former colonial ties or language may also influence the choice of destination, for instance United Kingdom for residents of Cyprus and Malta, Brazil for Portuguese residents, Morocco for Spanish tourists, Portugal for the Luxembourgish residents or India for UK residents.

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