World Tourism Organization figures to remember for France and Europe in 2019

3 min reading time

Published on 06/09/19 - Updated on 17/03/22

La Valette, Malte

The annual report from the UNWTO on the economic impact of tourism in 2018 is available. France continues to be the leading tourist destination worldwide, Europe is the leading receiver worldwide, although this region presents results that vary widely.

Good news for France: it remains in first place in terms of international tourist arrivals at 89 millions (+2.9% growth, versus +5.1% in 2017). In terms of revenues it remains in third place on the worldwide podium.

In addition this revenue is up +6% with respect to last year. France, in fact, received USD 67 billion in 2018, versus USD 60 billion the previous year. In 2010, it received USD 57 bn, for an increase by USD 10 bn over the course of eight years.

Another interesting fact is that revenues increased more rapidly than arrivals, meaning that this increase in revenues is the result of a slight increase in average tourist spending, although it remains particularly with respect to other destinations such as the United States and Spain (see article for more details on this subject).

As far as Europe is concerned, the continent remains the leading premier tourist destination worldwide thanks to 710 million international arrivals in 2018. The region is able to maintain good growth in terms of both arrivals (+5%) and revenues (5%), evaluated at USD 570 billion.

Southern Europe experienced the strongest growth: +8% additional arrivals, +7% in revenues.

The countries around the Mediterranean (on the European side) are thus driving growth throughout the region, in addition to receiving the most tourists with 289 million arrivals. Central and Eastern Europe follows, with a +5% increase in arrivals and +9% in revenue, followed by Western Europe, with +4% and +3% respectively, making it the the second most important destination in terms of absolute international arrivals (200 million arrivals) in Europe, and finally Northern Europe, which posted very stable performances at +1% for both arrivals and revenue.

Some countries in southern Europe made particularly good progress in terms of arrivals. In addition to the countries of former Yugoslavia, which are increasingly opening up to tourism and thus recording particularly high growth rates, there are several more "mature" destinations with equally impressive results. One example is the Island of Malta. With a spectacular increase of +14.3%, it rose from 2.24 million to 2.59 million arrivals. This increase has led to overcrowding that is beginning to be felt, according to some (see the file on Overtourism). Meanwhile, Greece, is doing well, with a +10.8% increase in visitors, for a total volume of 30.12 million international arrivals in 2018 (compared to 27.19 million in 2017). Italy, on the other hand, is evolving less rapidly than last year, but still shows an increase by +6.7% in 2018, for 62.14 million arrivals. Finally, Spain, the Mediterranean mastodon, ranks second in the top five worldwide, and continues to grow at a cruising rate of +1%, for a total of 82.77 million arrivals in 2018.

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