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European tourist attractions

European tourist attractions

According to European Tourist Attractions, a new Market Assessment report from market intelligence providers Key Note, the outstanding European tourism magnets, or urban ‘honeypots’, are still London and Paris.

No other city can match these two cities for sheer visitor numbers – though every country does have something unique to offer.

In contrast to other continents, European ‘attractions tourism’ is dominated by attractions that are based in history and cultures going back many centuries.

London’s host of traditional attractions has been joined in the 2000s by some major new ones, with the River Thames through London being opened up for tourism.

Paris also offers 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.

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) and the UK (at 30.5 million).  However, arrivals in Spain continue to rise, and it is also the top European country by income from visiting tourists – with the country’s visitors spending longer in Spain.

France is home to several tourism honeypots, including Avignon, Cannes, Nice, the walled city of Carcassonne, and the perfumeries of Grasse.  However, even these pale next to the appeal of Paris.  In 2004-2005, the number of admissions to the Eiffel Tower rose to 6.2 million and a new record of 6.4 million admissions is estimated in 2005.

Just as the development of the Eiffel Tower as an attraction illustrates the impact of a century of events – such as World Wars – the London visitor statistics are redolent of world events in the early years of the 21st century.

For London, a decline in domestic demand means that the city relies every more heavily on foreign visitors – who accounted for a forecast 58.3 per cent of hotel stays in 2006 (up from 40.7 per cent in 2001).

Furthermore, foreign hotel guests account for a much higher share of spending in the city.

As the emphasis on foreign visitors grows, the balance of countries supplying them becomes more crucial.


Whilst Americans still account for 17 per cent of visitors to London, this potential Achilles Heel should be offset in the future by visitors from a wider range of European and Asian countries.

Key Note’s report predicts that in the long term, the most significant future trend for Europe’s tourism will be the broadening out of origin countries.

The opening up of the Chinese economy could have a tremendous impact, with industrialisation in other Asian countries also producing demand for foreign travel.

For example, China was the seventh most important source of Eiffel Tower visitors in 2005.  Eastern Europe’s integration into the EU has also provided a boost and both China and India could provide massive numbers of future ‘attractions tourists’.

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