Robust Growth for European Inbound Tourism

Remarkable growth in Europe has been led by Southern and Mediterranean destinations. Europe recorded 671 million international tourist arrivals in 2017, just over half the world’s total and 52 million more than in 2016. This represents an increase of 8%, a remarkable result for the world’s most visited region, comprising many large and mature destinations.

Growth was driven by a strong rebound in destinations that faced security incidents in 2016, such as Turkey, France and Belgium, as well as the sustained strength of many destinations. Southern and Mediterranean Europe, the world’s most visited sub-region, led this notable increase, welcoming 30 million additional arrivals (+13%) and reaching a total of 267 million. Western Europe (+7%) also recorded robust growth, while arrivals in both Northern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe grew by 5%. Virtually all major source markets showed strong demand for European destinations in 2017, both inside and outside the region. The recovery of the Russian outbound market also bene tted many European destinations.

Growth in 2017 was led by Southern and Mediterranean Europe with an extraordinary 13% increase in arrivals and all destinations reporting growth rates at least above 6%. Results were driven by the recovery of Turkey (+29%) and the continued strong growth of other major and emerging destinations. The sub-region’s largest destination Spain (+9%) reported 82 million arrivals in the full year 2017, about 7 million more than in 2016, an outstanding result for such a large base volume and following already sustained growth in previous years. Virtually all other destinations posted double-digit growth last year, including Israel (+25%), Portugal (+11%), Italy and Greece (both +10%), Balkan destinations FYR Macedonia (+23%), Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro (both +19%), Serbia (+18%), Slovenia (+17%) and Croatia (+14%) and island destinations Malta (+16%) and Cyprus (+15%).

Western Europe (+7%) also recorded robust growth, following at results the previous year, led by Belgium (+12%) and top destination France (+8%) recovering from security threats in previous years. The Netherlands (+13%) enjoyed the fastest relative increase in arrivals, particularly thanks to increasing demand from China and other emerging markets. Switzerland (+7%), Germany (+5%) and Austria (+4%) also reported solid growth.

UNWTO Panel Experts from Europe evaluated 2017 results very positively, rating tourism performance with an impressive score of 152, thus exceeding by 21 points their own expectations at the beginning of the year (131). This is Europe’s highest evaluation since the start of the series in 2003 and the highest across UNWTO regions for 2017. Prospects for 2018 remain very positive, though at a comparatively more modest but still high level of 137.

robust growth europe inbound