Travel & Tourism as a % of GDP in Europe

Which countries in Europe rely the most on travel & tourism?

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Map of the size of the tourism industry in Europe.

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We looked at the most popular holiday destinations of Europeans before and also at which foreign tourists are mostly travelling to those countries. In this map, I want to have a look at how important the travel & tourism industry is for each European country.

We already saw that most foreign tourists travel to Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the tourism sector is a big contributor to the country’s GDP, as we can see. Travel & tourism is an important part of the economy of most southern European countries, but this is not the case for all of them. Travel & tourism is big in France, but its economy is not very dependent on it. The same goes for Italy and Turkey. For Greece however, it is a vital part of their economy, same for Portugal and Spain.

But for some smaller southern European countries, travel & tourism is an even more important part of their economy. For Albania it’s 20.3% of GDP, for Croatia 24.8% of GDP and for Montenegro even 30.8%. Despite Montenegro not being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, travel & tourism is a bigger part of Montenegro’s economy than any other European country.

Further north, we see that for most countries travel & tourism contributes less than 8% to its GDP. It’s a bit higher in Austria (10.7%), Luxembourg (10.3%), Germany (9.8%), the Netherlands (11.1%), the UK (9.9%) and Estonia (12.1%). Iceland definitely stands out in the northern half of Europe. Travel & tourism accounts for 21.4% of Iceland’s GDP, the third highest in Europe.

The data for this map is from 2019 and gives a good picture of the situation before the pandemic disrupted the tourism industry. The data comes from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The data includes both foreign and domestic tourists.

The WTTC uses the UN WTO methodology for defining the travel & tourism industry. These include travel and tourism contribution to accommodation services, food & beverage services, retail trade, transportation services, cultural, sports & recreational services. On top of that, indirect travel & tourism contribution is also included: T&T investment spending, government collective T&T spending, impact of purchases from suppliers, spending of direct and indirect employees in T&T.


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