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Which European Countries Posted the Best Tourism Growth in 2018?

In 2018, tourists spent over 1.4 billion nights in the EU 28 plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo. Which countries posted the biggest tourism gains? We analysed data from Eurostat to see which countries grew the most in popularity with international visitors over the past year.

European Countries with the Biggest Tourism Gains (%)

Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Latvia, Serbia and Macedonia grew the most in popularity with tourists in 2018 on a percentage basis. While these countries see far fewer visitors in terms of absolute numbers, they showed the largest percentage improvement from 2017.

Each of these countries posted gains of 8% or more in terms of nights spent in each country by tourists. Macedonia was the clear winner, with nonresidents spending 22% more nights in 2018 than 2017. For comparison, EU countries posted gains of 2.2% overall.

2018 European Tourism Winners (% Growth)

Percentage Change in Nonresident Nights Spent in Tourist Accommodation 2017 to 2018
1. Macedonia22%
2. Serbia15.5%
3. Latvia10.1%
4. Belgium8.9%
5. Liechtenstein8.8%
6. Lithuania8%
7. Montenegro7.9%
8. Netherlands7.6%
9. Kosovo6.9%
10. Sweden6.6%
EU Average2.2%
chart showing which European countries had the biggest percentage gain in tourism 2018
These 6 European countries had the best percentage growth in nights spent in the country by nonresidents, 2018

European Countries with the Biggest Tourism Gains (number of nights)

France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Croatia, Austria and Greece saw the biggest absolute tourism gains between 2017 and 2018, with France by far seeing the largest increase with 7.7 million additional nights spent by tourists in 2018. In fact, the absolute number of additional visitor nights spent in France was more than 2X the 3.7 million night gain seen in Germany.

2018 European Tourism Winners (Absolute Growth)

Absolute Change in Nonresident Nights Spent in Tourist Accommodation 2017 to 2018 (millions)
1. France7.7
2. Germany3.7
3. Italy3.6
4. Netherlands3.4
5. Croatia2.8
6. Austria2.6
7. Greece2.2
8. Belgium1.7
9. Switzerland1.1
10. Poland1.0
EU Total28.3
chart showing which European countries had the biggest absolute gain in tourism 2018
These 7 European countries had the best absolute growth in nights spent in the country by nonresidents, 2018

Methodology

In order to determine which European countries grew the most in popularity with tourists in 2018, we analysed data from eurostat on the number of nights spent in each country by nonresidents. To better understand the growth seen in each country, we considered two different metrics: absolute change and percentage change.

The absolute change represents the increase (or decrease) in the actual number of nights spent in tourist accommodation between 2017 and 2018. The percentage change represents the percentage increase or decrease in tourist nights from 2017 to 2018—this measure captures impressive growth in countries that might have smaller absolute numbers of tourists. See the table below for the raw data from eurostat, sorted in alphabetical order.

Tourist Data

Nonresident Nights Spent in Tourist AccommodationAbsolute Number of Tourist Nights (millions)Percentage Change 2017 to 2018Absolute Change 2017 to 2018
Austria893.0%2,600,000
Belgium208.9%1,700,000
Bulgaria183.9%700,000
Croatia833.5%2,800,000
Cyprus173.2%500,000
Czechia272.2%600,000
Denmark135.1%600,000
Estonia41.0%-
Finland71.2%100,000
France1415.8%7,700,000
Germany874.4%3,700,000
Greece922.5%2,200,000
Hungary152.7%400,000
Iceland82.1%200,000
Ireland^17-7.4%-1,300,000
Italy2141.7%3,600,000
Kosovo06.9%-
Latvia410.1%300,000
Liechtenstein08.8%-
Lithuania48.0%300,000
Luxembourg3-4.2%-100,000
Malta106.4%600,000
Montenegro47.9%300,000
Netherlands487.6%3,400,000
Macedonia222.0%300,000
Norway102.2%200,000
Poland185.8%1,000,000
Portugal49-0.1%-
Romania51.3%100,000
Serbia415.5%500,000
Slovakia64.3%200,000
Slovenia8n/an/a
Spain301-1.6%-4,900,000
Sweden166.6%1,000,000
Switzerland274.4%1,100,000
United Kingdom1340.6%800,000
EU1,4452.0%28,300,000

^ Low reliability

Source

Comments and Questions

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.