Without exaggeration the travel and tourism sector is the backbone of the European economy. This industry employs 12% of the European work force and accounts for EUR 1170 billion in the European GDP. The developed infrastructure, rich cultural heritage and favorable climate conditions are the key factors contributing to the success of the European destinations. In this respect it is worth to underline that three of the world's top four tourist destinations are situated in Europe: France, Spain and Italy.
We can even go as far as to argue that the travel and tourism sector shapes the economic and cultural face of the modern Europe. The unification of Europe and the development of the infrastructure for both land and air travel more than doubled tourism-related trips in the last 30 years. The trips have become both more frequent and longer in terms of mileage. On average, every European makes at least one trip longer than a thousand kilometers per year.
Nowadays it is almost impossible to find a European country where the development of travel and tourism is not inscribed in the agenda of national governments. The travel and tourism contribute from 5% to 17% to the national GDP depending on country. Furthermore, it is one of the rare sectors with growth rates surpassing national averages.
As almost anywhere in the world the European travel and tourism sector is subject to seasonal fluctuations. The summer, the busiest period, exceeds the activity volume of the winter, the quietest period, by 37% on average. In monthly terms, in August, the busiest month, the level of activity is higher by 59% on average compared to February, the quietest month.
Over 700 million overseas tourists visit Europe every year. This number trippled over the last 20 years. The three most visited European countries are France, Spain and Italy with 90, 82 and 61 million foreign tourists per year respectively in 2019.
Most analysts predict that the world economic development will further increase travel and tourism flows. With respect to Europe, the estimation for average annual growth rates range from 1 to 6% depending on a particular country. For Europe as a whole the expected average growth rate is in the order of 1.4% in the period of 2022-2030.