In the European Union (EU), tourism is above all an internal affair. Nearly 90% of tourism nights in the EU are spent by EU residents, meaning that tourists from outside the EU account for only around 10% of the total. And when travelling, EU residents spent almost 85% of their tourism nights within the EU, with only just over 15% in extra-EU destinations.
Nevertheless, more than 300 million nights were spent in the EU by non-EU visitors in tourist accommodation in 2014. With 17.8% and 14.9% respectively of all nights spent by non-EU tourists in the EU in 2014, tourists from the United States and Russia were the main visitors from outside the EU, while those from China (5.0%), Japan (3.7%) and Brazil (2.5%) each represented less than 5% of nights spent by non-EU tourists. Over the past decade, the EU has grown as a tourist destination. Compared with 2005, extra-EU tourism in the EU increased by 75% in 2014, particularly driven by a boom in the number of nights spent by tourists from China (+282%), Russia (+248%) and Brazil (+215%), while the growth has been more moderate for tourists from the United States (+13%) and a decrease was registered for those from Japan (-11%).
Accounting for 17.5% of all nights spent, Italy was in 2014 the main destination of non-EU visitors coming to the EU, followed by the United Kingdom (13.9%), Spain (13.5%), and France (12.2%). For Russian visitors, the top EU tourist destinations were Spain (18.4%), Greece (15.2%) and Italy (13.9%).
Tourists from outside the EU were particularly important for Cyprus (40.3% of all nights spent in tourist accommodation), Latvia (31.2%), Bulgaria (26.9%), Lithuania (24.2%), Greece (24.0%) and the Czech Republic (21.2%). In contrast, this share was below 10% in Poland (5.7%), Romania (6.7%), the Netherlands (6.8%), Germany (8.1%), Slovakia (8.6%), Belgium (9.8%) and France (9.9%).
The respective shares of US, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian visitors in EU tourism activity are very different from one Member State to another. Russian tourists represented a very significant share of non-EU tourism activity in Cyprus (72.8%), Estonia (57.6%), Latvia (48.4%) and Finland (45.8%), while for Chinese tourists the highest shares were recorded in Luxembourg (13.8%), the United Kingdom (7.5%), France (7.2%), Belgium (6.9%) and Germany (6.7%).