Montenegro, Croatia, Iceland: which European countries are most – and least – dependent on tourism
Tourists are welcome all over Europe.
But visitors can expect an extra friendly welcome in Montenegro, where tourism accounts for more than a quarter of economic output.
The figures of the World Travel and Tourism Council revealed which European economies depended most on tourism before the pandemic – and who still are.
It is based on gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the total value of goods and services produced in a given country in a year.
Small caps Montenegrowith its gleam of Adriatic Sea, the travel industry accounted for almost a third (30.8%) of the country’s GDP in 2019.
This figure dropped to just over 7% in 2020 – but has since rebounded to 25.5%.
Which European countries depend the most on tourism?
Since pandemic restrictions eased, countries have tried to bring tourists back.
For places that rely heavily on high-spending travelers, this task couldn’t be more urgent.
In 2019, Montenegro’s dependence on tourism was followed closely by that of Croatia. The Balkan coastal country depended on tourism for almost a quarter (24.8%) of its GDP. By 2021, that figure had fallen to 16.1%.
Before the pandemic, tourism accounted for more than a fifth of GDP in GreeceIceland and Albania. In each of these countries, it now represents less than a sixth.
At the other end of the spectrum, many countries had virtually no tourism in 2019. These countries largely failed to attract visitors from across the border. restrictions began to ease.
In 2019, Ireland received 4.2% of its GDP from the travel industry, followed by Poland (4.8%) and Russia (5%).
Figures for 2021 show these percentages dropping even further. In Ireland, tourism represented only 1.2% of the total economy and in Poland less than 3%.
In Russiatourism accounted for 3.7% of GDP in 2021. But those numbers are set to fall further this year, with visitor numbers soaring after Russia invaded Ukraine.
In the rest of the continent, tourism will increase this year, with many countries experiencing a strong increase in the number of visitors.
Analysis from Landgeist – an organization that tracks statistical trends using maps – clearly ranks GDP increases in 2019 across the continent
What about the most popular European countries for tourists?
The most popular countries in Europe attract millions of tourists every year. However, they are less dependent on it than some of their neighbors.
France is Europe’s most popular country with tourists, receiving 90 million visitors a year before the pandemic. Montenegro, on the other hand, received just over 2.5 million.
Tourists flock to France for its cultured cities, beautiful landscapes and gastronomy.
But tourism accounted for less than a tenth of GDP before the pandemic, according to WTTC figures – and in 2021 it contributed 6.5%.
Nearby Spain welcomed more than 80 million visitors in 2019. Yet tourism only accounted for 14.5% of GDP – a figure that almost halved to 8.5% in 2021.
What to do in Montenegro
So if you want to help rebuild the travel industry in Europe, where it’s needed most, consider a vacation to Montenegro.
The country may be small, but there is no shortage of things to do and see. Soaring mountains and medieval cities, here are three of the best things to do in Montenegro.
3. Go to the beach
With 295 km of coastline, Montenegro has hundreds of beautiful beaches. Try Jaz Beach, one of the longest in the Budva region and a popular spot with tourists and locals alike.
Also check the calendar of events – the beach often hosts concerts and festivals.
2. Stroll through the old town of Kotor
Located in the walled city of Kotor, the old town is a protected site Unesco World Heritage with two millennia of history. The city’s attractions – including a 12th-century Roman cathedral and one of the first theaters in the Balkans – are enclosed within 10-meter-thick medieval walls.
You can also walk to the city walls for stunning views of the Bay of Kotor. A solid alternative to the busy walls of Dubrovnik.
1. Visit one of the country’s national parks
Nature lovers should head to Lovcen National Park, home to over 1300 plant species. The towering peak in the center gave Montenegro its historical name, Črna Gora (“Black Mountain”).
For a breathtaking landscapediscover Durmitor National Park, dotted with glistening glacial lakes.