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Analysis

[Maps] What are the key figures for tourism in Europe?

Following the European elections, we are reexamining the indicators and different regulations in effect in the hotel and tourism industry that structure these two sectors in the EU-28.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has just published year-end results for 2018 and the first quarter of 2019. Europe, the historic cradle of tourism, continues to be the leading receiver worldwide. It represents no less than 50.9% of international arrivals in 2018, a number that has grown 6.1% between 2017 and 2018. And yet, between 2016 and 2017, arrivals increased 8.5%. It is thus a matter of a slight slump in growth in tourist arrivals in Europe.

From a more regional standpoint, Mediterranean Europe is the champion on the podium as it is the area most visited on the continent, with 20.6% of all arrivals. It is also the most dynamic region: +7.8% of arrivals in Europe in 2018 (+12.9% in 2017). Far from being a surprise, Western Europe ranks second with 14.6%, with a 5.9% increase in volume of arrivals. Finally, Eastern part of the continent comes in with 10.1% of tourists, but experienced strong growth (+6.0%), that is promising for the future. Northern Europe, meanwhile, welcomed 5.6% of these visitors, saw relatively stable growth (+0.6%).

To complete this panorama of Europe, the maps below include various indicators such as European arrivals or GDP growth rate, as well as information on sector regulations, starting with VAT in the hotel and restaurant sectors, and the tourist tax. One thing is certain: diversity is the law in the EU, with each country presenting a unique case.

To begin, France is first in number of international tourist arrivals (86.8M in 2017). The hotel and catering industry enjoy a reduced VAT, at 10%. Nonetheless, the tourism tax is one of the highest in Europe, with a maximum of 4.00€ (for palaces), the price varies with respect to the category of accommodations and whether or not it is classified since 2019. In addition to this price may be added to 10% of the price of the tax, if the department wishes. Germany, in fifth position in international arrivals in Europe, has developed a similar system for the tourism tax. It varies between 0.25€ and 5€, and may be completed by a variable amount corresponding to 5% depending on the price, category and location of the room.

But not all countries wish to benefit from this ressource. For example, Denmark chose not to implement a tourism tax, but rather a high VAT, the highest of all (25% on everything: restaurants and hotels). Belgium, on the contrary, has some of the highest tourism taxes (up to 7.50€) but a fairly low VAT (12% for F&B, 6% for hotels, 21% for the normal tax). Cypress represents altogether another case. The island has no tourist tax and a relatively low VAT (9% for hotels and F&B, 19% on everything else), by making a very good compromise from this point of view, given that the country is part of the euro zone.

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