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What is the demand for tourism services in developing countries?

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As a main source region for long-haul tourism, Europe offers you good opportunities. Germany, the United Kingdom and France are the largest markets, but other countries are also promising. Eastern European countries show the highest growth in trips to developing countries. Smaller northern and western European countries boast a high per capita number of trips to developing countries. Their tourism expenditure per capita is also the highest. Study these countries to select your ideal markets.

1 . Tourism statistics Europe

Europe is a large source region

The European market is one of the world’s largest source regions for long-haul tourism. Over 15% of all outbound trips from Europe are trips to developing countries, equalling 65 million trips in 2015. This also means there is still a lot of market share to gain, making European long-haul tourism an interesting target market for you.

The number of outbound trips is growing

European outbound tourism increased by 3.0% in 2015. Although trips to non-developing countries increased by 5.1%, trips to developing countries decreased by 2.0%. This decrease of 1.3 million trips can be accounted for by a declining interest in some of the main destinations such as Tunisia and Turkey. For other destinations in developing countries, Europe’s economic recovery and travellers’ search for new and authentic experiences are expected to continue stimulating growth.


  • Focus on two to three European priority countries. The European source market consists of many countries with different characteristics. Product, price, promotion and distribution strategies as well as interest in specific developing countries may differ per country.
  • Before targeting a specific source market, check your country’s air connectivity. Can travellers easily reach your country and are flights affordable?

2 . Tourism statistics for individual European markets

The European market has three main focus areas

In terms of opportunities, the European long-haul tourism market consists of three areas:

  • larger western European countries – the United Kingdom, Germany and France;
  • Eastern European countries – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Croatia;
  • smaller western and northern European countries – the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Switzerland.


When selecting your European priority market(s), take the following criteria into account:

  • number and growth rate of trips to developing countries;
  • number and growth rate of trips to your region/country;
  • tourism expenditure;
  • availability of airline connections to your destination, preferably direct flights;
  • market trends and consumer preferences;
  • historical bonds.

Large countries are the main source of European trips to developing countries

Three large countries dominate European trips to developing countries: Germany, the United Kingdom and France. These countries represent more than half of the total European market. They are expected to remain the largest source markets and continue to offer you good opportunities.


  • Target the outbound tourism markets of the United Kingdom, Germany and/or France.
  • Attend tourism trade events in these countries, especially ITB in Germany, WTM in the United Kingdom and Top Resa in France.
  • Focus on specific product market combinations within these source markets, as competition might be fierce.

Eastern European countries are growing source markets

Eastern European countries can also be interesting. They are emerging markets for outbound tourism that still have to reach maturity. Due to rapidly growing economies, Eastern European travellers are increasingly travelling abroad. In fact, Eastern Europe showed some of the highest average annual growth rates in trips to developing countries between 2011 and 2015. Especially promising are Estonia (5.3%), Bulgaria (5.2%), Hungary (4.4%), Lithuania (2.9%) and Croatia (2.2%).


  • Target Eastern European countries with a growing market for destinations in developing countries.
  • Most travellers in these countries are first-generation travellers. They generally choose mainstream holidays such as sun and beach holidays or round trips. For more insight into the Eastern European tourism market, see our study of Outbound tourism from emerging Eastern European countries.

Smaller northern and western European countries are also promising

Smaller northern and western European markets also offer good potential. Per capita, these countries have the highest numbers of trips to developing countries. They also boast the highest international tourism expenditure per capita, up to three times higher than the large source markets.


  • Focus on smaller western and northern European markets. They can be easier to target, as they are more compact and therefore have a clearer organisational structure.

3 . Destinations in developing countries

Developing countries in Asia are the most popular

With a 52% market share, developing countries in Asia are the most popular among European travellers. This is mainly due to good air connectivity and affordable ticket prices. In addition, popular Asian destinations such as Turkey, Thailand and China already have experience with mass tourism and can offer a large tourism capacity.

Developing countries in Africa come second, with a market share of 22%. This is largely because popular North African destinations such as Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia are close to Europe and have good air connectivity. However, recent terrorist attacks in the region have a considerable negative effect on its tourism industry. The number of visits from Europe to North Africa declined by 14% in 2015. Future developments of tourism in this region depend on the stability of the region.


Turkey is the most popular destination in a developing country

Turkey is by far the most visited developing country by European travellers. Its location, good air connectivity and cheap all-inclusive tourism offers make it a popular mass tourism destination for sun and beach holidays.

However, European travellers increasingly look for experience holidays. This offers opportunities for other destinations in developing countries. The recent geopolitical unrest in Turkey also affects its tourism industry. After a decline of 1.1% in 2015, Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism confirmed a further 35% decline in tourist arrivals from Europe for 2016.


  • Promote new, authentic experiences that you can offer to travellers. Differentiate them from the experiences that travellers can find elsewhere, to distinguish yourself from competitors.
  • Good air connections with the European market are essential. Join forces with your local public and private sector to lobby with airlines, tourism boards, tourism promotion organisations and other stakeholders. 

New tourism destinations show the highest growth

Developing countries with the highest growth in European arrivals between 2011 and 2015 were relatively new destinations further away; for example, Tajikistan, Myanmar (Burma) and the Islamic Republic of Iran. This confirms the trend that European travellers are increasingly looking for new, authentic destinations and experiences. These travellers are especially interested in round trips, to learn about the destination’s culture and nature.


  • Compose basic round trip packages that include the most interesting cultural and natural highlights of your destination. Offer optional add-ons (“building blocks”) for European travellers to compose their own package.
  • Invest in continuous promotion activities in your European target market(s) to increase awareness of your country and tourism product; for example, via trade events, road shows, familiarisation trips for press and tour operators, and online advertising.

Individual European countries have different preferences

Influenced by, for example, language and air connectivity, individual European markets prefer different destinations. For example, Thailand, Egypt and China are among the favourite destinations for German, Austrian, Swiss, Dutch, British and Scandinavian travellers, while Africa is especially popular among the French, Eastern European travellers (e.g. Ukraine) and the Spanish prefer Latin America and Morocco. The leading destination in a developing country, Turkey, is popular across Europe.


  • Use outbound tourism statistics of individual European countries to choose your main target market(s). A good source to buy such statistics is the World Tourism Organisation

For more qualitative information, see our study of Trends in tourism.

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