Industries in Depth

Where do Europeans go on holiday?

People gather near beach umbrellas as warm summer temperatures continue in Arcachon, southwestern France, August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau - RTX2LA1G

The Canary Islands, Paris and its surrounds, and Spain’s Catalonia prove the biggest draw. Image: REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Charlotte Edmond
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Where do Europeans go when they want to top up their tans, see some sights or read a book by the pool? Clue: it’s not far.

When it comes to going on holiday, most Europeans prefer to stay close to home, with the majority of recorded tourists in Europe coming from the continent itself.

And it’s the beaches of the Canary Islands, Paris and its surrounds, and Spain’s Catalonia, encompassing Barcelona, that prove the biggest draw.

Image: Eurostat

Nearly 90% of all tourist nights spent in the EU in 2015 were by EU residents themselves, the EU statistics agency Eurostat finds. And 85% of all Europeans’ holiday days were spent within the region. In fact holidays within their own country make up the biggest proportion of all.

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Spain, Italy and France are the most popular countries to visit, each having a number of different regions attracting large numbers of tourists. Tourists spent a total of 94 million nights in 2015 in Spain’s Canary Islands, including Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Catalonia amassed 75.5 million tourist nights, meanwhile the Balearic Islands, including Majorca and Ibiza, clocked up 65.2 million nights.

France claimed three spots in the top 10 destinations, with Ile-de-France, including Paris, taking second place with 76.8 million nights. Also popular were Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (54.6 million nights) and Rhône-Alpes (48.7 million nights).

Image: Eurostat

Leaving Europe behind

For Europeans travelling outside the region, the US and Turkey were the biggest attractions, accounting for 13.8% and 10.4% of the nights spent respectively.

In 2015, both UK and Estonian residents spent more than a quarter of their holiday outside the EU. Belgians, Croatians, Lithuanians and Austrians meanwhile spent on average at least one in five of their nights away outside the EU.

On average, 15.4% of all tourism nights of EU residents were spent in non-EU countries.

People queue up at a city tour bus stop in front of the Basilica Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, September 13, 2013. Sunseekers spurning unrest in Egypt and Turkey flocked to Spain in record numbers in August, setting the country up for its best-ever year for visitors and giving a boost to the ailing economy. Tourism contributed over 5 percent of Spain's economy or GDP in 2012 and provided around 900,000 jobs, according to Euromonitor, in a country where one in four is out of work, meaning a boost to tourist figures should be good news as other sectors flag. Picture taken September 13, 2013.  REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: TRAVEL BUSINESS) - RTX13WQ6
Image: REUTERS/Albert Gea

Europeans spent an average of €85 ($100) a night in another EU country, ranging from €46 in Slovakia to €129 in Estonia.

But four in 10 Europeans didn’t take any trips at all, with half of them citing financial reasons as the cause for staying at home.

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