Tourism Brexit Buoyancy: European cities celebrate growth despite challenging times

European Cities Marketing (ECM) has today (Monday, March 4, 2019) announced that despite a challenging year, destinations across Europe are celebrating a 1.9% growth in city tourism for 2018. For the first time since the year after the economic crisis in 2008, the European domestic market (+5.2%) has surpassed international bednight growth which stayed at the same level as 2017.

European Cities Marketing reported the preliminary results from the forthcoming European Cities Benchmarking Report. Compared to the previous years (CAGR 2012-2017: 4.8%) the growth rate has slowed but with domestic bednights growth (5.2%) surpassing international bednights for the first time, there is still much to be celebrated. The preliminary data feature results from 58 out of 121 cities, representing a total of 435 million bednights.

Top Performing Cities

Notes: Bednights in all paid forms of accommodation establishments: Berlin, London, Prague, Vienna, and Hamburg. Bednights in hotels and similar establishments: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, Munich, and Paris. Data covers city area only, except for London, Paris, and Vienna (greater area). Data includes forecasts for: London (X-XII/2018), Paris (XI-XII/2018), Berlin (XII/2018), Munich (XI-XII/2018), Amsterdam (IX-XII/2018), Hamburg (XII/2018).

The top performing cities and the ranking in terms of total number of bednights did not change in comparison to 2017, with all cities outside of London seeing growth. London had the highest number of bednights in 2018 with a decrease of 8.7%, followed by Paris (+8.9%), Berlin (+5.2%), Madrid (+2.4%) and Barcelona (+2.7%).

Munich showed the most substantial growth (+9.3%), alongside Paris, Amsterdam (+6.7%), Vienna (+6.0%) and Hamburg (+5.3%) which all show more than 5% growth on last year.

Dieter Hardt-Stremayr, ECM President, explains: “We can see that city tourism in Europe is continuing to flourish, as European cities remain the most attractive tourism destinations for visitors from all over the world. The visitor economy has proven resilient and showcased its transformative power supporting the cities when they need it most. 2018 also showed the significance and interdependence of the world metropolis London on Europe’s overall tourism demand. Despite London’s reduction in visits 2018, it is still the second highest number of visits on record and travelers still consider the UK as welcoming as before the referendum. The final report will shed even more light on the structural changes ahead.”

Main Source Market Developments

The USA (12%), Germany (9%), and UK (8%) make up approximately 30% of the source markets for European cities. Among the set of most important source markets China showed the highest increase with 9.2%, followed by USA (6%) and Japan (5.7%), while France decreased by 2.3%. Italy turned around its decreasing streak since 2015 and had an increase of 1.7%. Considering London’s strategic importance, when it comes to its role as a major gateway to Europe for visitors from the Americas, we can already anticipate the structural changes ahead. Whilst long-haul markets are performing well for London, particularly the USA and China which both recorded record visits, visitor performance and sentiment from Europe has declined. At the same time, the slowed down US market’s growth rate from +15.4% (2017) to + 5.7% (2018) for Europe overall showcases the interdependences and led to the superior growth in demand from domestic visitors.


Further information & pre-order special

Charts and further data are available for free at The 15th edition of the European Cities Marketing Benchmarking Report will be available as of June 2019, representing the leading source of European city tourism statistics in the world. The report can be pre-ordered at a discount rate of -20% until the end of April 2019.




*European Cities Marketing is a non-profit organisation improving the competitiveness and performance of leading cities of Europe by providing a platform for convention, leisure and city marketing professionals to exchange knowledge, best practice and widen their network to build new business. European Cities Marketing is promoting and linking the interests of members from more than 100 major cities in 38 countries.

Further information & pre-order special

European Cities Marketing, Flavie Baudot,, +33 380 56 02 00
MODUL University Vienna (Scientific Partner), Karl Wöber,, +43-1-3203555-300