Understanding your customers
In the European Union, tourism is above all an internal affair. According to Eurostat, 87% of tourist nights in the EU are spent by EU residents, meaning that tourists from outside the EU account for only around 13% of the total.
It is essential to know and understand the key trends and characteristics of the European markets so that you can tailor your tourism services and products accordingly. Germany, France, the UK, Italy and, the Netherlands provide the greatest outbound tourism flow in the EU, so it would be beneficial to learn more about each of these markets.
Did you know?
- 62% of the European population aged 15 and above participated in tourism in 2017? (Eurostat)
- these residents made an estimated 1.3 billion tourism trips, with 73.3% of these taking place at domestic destinations, and the remainder abroad?
- according to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Germany, the UK, France and Italy also make up part of the world’s top 10 major markets for international tourism expenditure?
- German citizens spent €72 billion on tourism in 2016, second only to the United States and China globally?
For more facts and figures such as these, and to help you understand your market, you can use the EU Virtual Tourism Observatory, which contains useful information on tourism trends in Europe. Further statistics on tourism are available via Eurostat.
Key data on some of the European markets
- 28 million German residents went on outbound holidays, representing 35% of total EU cross-border trips.
- 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 typically organise their holidays 2 to 6 months in advance and prefer package tourism to customised travel.
- Germans prefer hotel accommodation to other types of tourist accommodation.
The most popular travel destinations for Germans are
Europe: Austria, Italy and Spain
Long haul: the USA, Southeast Asia and Egypt
The UK is one of the world’s largest outbound tourism markets with a total international tourism expenditure of €57 billion in 2016.
Figures show that 14 million residents went on outbound holidays, representing a share of 18% at EU level.
British tourists are most keen on 4-star hotel accommodation.
The most popular travel destinations for British residents are
Europe: Spain, France, Italy and Turkey
Long haul: Southeast Asia, Egypt and Tunisia
- France is an important outbound tourism market and placed sixth worldwide in terms of international tourism expenditure in 2016, spending €36 billion.
- Figures show that 9 million residents went on outbound holidays, accounting for 11% of the share with an especially high number of female travellers aged between 25 and 44.
- French tourists are most keen on mid-priced hotel accommodation.
The most popular travel destinations for French residents are
Europe: Spain, Italy and the UK.
- The Dutch outbound travel market is the largest relative to the population of the country, with 59% of all tourists travelling outside the Netherlands.
- This is the EU country with the highest share of residents travelling abroad with7 million residents going on outbound holidays, accounting for 9% of EU cross-border tourism.
- Dutch tourists tend to travel throughout the year and especially seek tailor-made trips and experiential travel.
- The Dutch especially enjoy staying at campsites.
The most popular travel destinations for the Dutch are
Europe: Germany, France and Spain
- 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.
- They are also the fifth largest outbound market within the EU with 3 million residents going on outbound holidays, which accounted for 4% of the share.
- Travel is a ‘prime necessity’ for Italians and they travel regularly.
- They like destinations that are accessible by car.
- Italians look for mid-priced accommodation and often in 3-star hotels or holiday apartments.
The most popular travel destinations for Italians are
Europe: France, Spain, Turkey and Croatia
Further reading on market information
The USA: One of the main international markets
- What is European tourism like?
Understanding the evolution and movements of the tourism market as well as the main trends
- How to attract tourists from other European countries
Characteristics that make up the market and tourism flows within the EU
- How to make your company's services stand out
Learn about different things you can do to differentiate yourself from the competition