Europe for Dummies

Under construction. Supposed to include tourism information overview and some useful websites for tourism and travel in Europe.

We estimate that there were 463 million arrivals by tourists in European countries in 2006, showing growth of 16.5% since 2002, although growth rates between 2002 and 2006 varied from country to country, from an increase of 56.3% for Turkey, to a 5.8% decline for Italy.

In terms of frontier arrivals, France retains its leading position in Europe with an estimated 77 million arrivals in 2006, well ahead of Spain (at 59 million), Italy (at 37.5 million), the UK (at 30.5 million) and Germany (at 22 million). However, arrivals in Spain continue to rise, whereas the French market appears to have reached saturation point. Spain is also the top European country by income from visiting tourists, because the country’s visitors spend longer in Spain; arrivals in France include a higher proportion of short-stay visitors.

Spain’s seaside tourism gives it European leadership on some measures, but the outstanding tourist magnets, or urban `honeypots’, remain London and Paris. London’s host of traditional attractions – the British Museum, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Madame Tussauds et al – has been joined in the 2000s by major new ones, including the British Airways London Eye, a giant ferris-wheel attraction, and the Tate Modern art gallery.

Generally, the River Thames through London has been opened up for tourism. Paris also has attractions both old and modern, and the added tourism benefit of hosting Europe’s only Disney theme park. With 12.8 million admissions in 2006, Disneyland Resort Paris is by far Europe’s major commercial park; the continent’s other `national’ theme parks include Alton Towers (in the UK), PortAventura (in Spain), Europa-Park (in Germany) and three Legoland parks.

No other city can match London or Paris for sheer visitor numbers, yet every country has something unique to offer, demonstrated by the following examples:

– relics of its Empire and the Vatican

– Berlin’s rejuvenation since Reunification and the fall of the Wall

– Barcelona’s outstanding buildings by Gaudí

– Venice’s precarious construction on a network of canals.

In contrast to other continents, European `attractions tourism’ is dominated by attractions that are based in history and cultures going back many centuries. For many visitors, simply wandering around the `old towns’ – the well-preserved ancient hearts of many cities and towns across Europe – is enough of an attraction. Some cities have never been allowed to change significantly, while others have enjoyed regeneration to make them more appealing to tourists.

`Old town’ tourism is just one identifiable type of attractions tourism; others include `ecclesiastical’ (visiting major cathedrals and churches), `collections’ (museums, art galleries and zoos), `fortification’ (castles and city walls) and `stately home’ (country seats, châteaux and royal residences) tourism.

Owners range across national, regional and local governments, municipalities (cities), non-profit organisations (including churches, charities and trusts) and private owners. The latter include families (e.g. aristocratic owners of stately homes) and corporate owners, such as theme-park operators.

There has been some consolidation of ownership, with a strong British bias. A large number of commercial attractions (e.g. theme parks and water parks) in several countries are now owned by Tussauds Group or Merlin Entertainments (both of UK), Compagnie des Alpes (France) and Parques Reunidos (Spain).

Attractions tourism will continue to grow as long as Europe does not suffer undue turmoil, such as internal military conflicts (which are increasingly unlikely), serious terrorist attacks in cities or environmental disasters.

Among the more normal factors encouraging growth, or change, will be:

– a tendency for major attractions to increase their admission prices, often with a more comprehensive `experience’ for the price

– transport improvements, particularly more low-cost airline routes and railway developments

– provision of more budget or `no-frills’ hotels and hostels in the more expensive cities.

In the long term, the most significant future trend for Europe’s tourism will be the broadening out of origin countries. Eastern Europe’s integration into the EU has provided a boost and both China and India could provide massive numbers of future `attractions tourists’.

[Research and Markets via eHotelier.com here]

Start with VisitEurope.com Your journey through Europe. Might continue with some of these sites:

EuropeETravel.com – guide to Europe travel online (doesn`t include all countries)

RailEurope.com – interactive map of Europe showing rail connections between cities

Europa.eu – European Union official homepage

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3 Comments »

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  1. Europe for Dummies Ebook
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  2. Hi, there!..c0dcd71e2b3162b0240dbeffddc6bbf9

  3. We enjoy the sentiment of this blog and also the writer’s attitude. And, thanks for the map. When it comes to Europe, we are definitely dummies.


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