There’s no need to go very far to relax: EU citizens spend most of their holidays in their own country.
Data from the European Commission’s statistics office provides an interesting insight into the habits of European vacationers.
Most of the tourism trips EU residents made in 2015 consisted of short breaks of maximum three nights away, and three-quarters of all trips were spent in their country of residence, according to Eurostat.
Within the EU, the Finns are those who travel the most. They take on average seven trips each year (more than one night away from home, excluding business trips). Luxembourg and France rank respectively sixth and seventh with around three trips per inhabitant. The EU average is 2.3 trips.
The Belgians are among those who travel the least, with just 1.2 trips per person. Most Bulgarians don’t even leave their home for a single night (0.4 trips per year on average).
It’s no big surprise that the inhabitants of a tiny (and prosperous) country such as Luxembourg tend to spend their holidays almost exclusively abroad. Belgians come second: they spend 89 percent of their vacation nights abroad.
On the other hand, the Greeks – followed by the French – are the Europeans who spend the most vacation time in their homeland. After all, both countries rank among the world’s top tourist destinations, and many Parisians are understandably also keen to discover sunnier regions such as the French Riviera or Corsica.
When Europeans do venture outside the bloc, they typically travel to Asia and the Americas, and Turkey and the United States are their favourite destinations.
Within the EU, France, Spain and Germany are the three most popular countries for European tourists.
While most tourists tend to try out various destinations for their escapades, some seem hooked on specific countries. Slovenians, for instance, love neighbouring Croatia and spend half of their vacation time there.
Is language a factor when choosing a destination? A vacation does tend to be more relaxing when you can easily make yourself understood.
While the French spend 82 percent of their vacation time in their homeland, Belgians spend roughly a quarter of their travel time in France, Luxemburgers around a fifth. The land of 400 kinds of cheese is also a prime destination for the Swiss, though Italy remains their first choice.
These preferences may of course also have to do with geographical proximity – after all, spending hours or even days in a car to reach your vacation spot is perhaps not the best way to unwind.
When Europeans do hop onto planes to leave Europe, they tend to choose the United States – though it only ranks sixth on their list of preferred destinations – just like the Luxemburgers and Swiss. Belgians for their part seem to prefer Turkey.
Most Europeans still hit the road to reach their holiday destination. Two-thirds of them take their car and 6 percent travel by coach. Well behind motor vehicles, air transport accounts for 16 percent of all trips and railway for 11 percent.
Unsurprisingly, those who travel the most by plane live on islands – Malta, Cyprus, Ireland – or in landlocked and wealthy Luxembourg.
With Natalie Huet