People relax at Ericeira beach, north of Lisbon, May 11 2011.
The fact that 58 per cent of EU residents are opting to take their holidays in Europe is a sign that the tourism industry is on its way to recovery and to becoming a growth industry again, according to European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship.
Tajani was commenting on the results of a Eurobarometer survey intended to monitor short and medium term travel trends among European citizens.
Sixty-eight per cent of EU citizens travelled for private reasons in 2010 compared to 65 per cent in 2009, according to the survey.
Preference still inclines towards traditional tourist destinations (58 per cent), while 28 per cent would like to discover emerging destinations.
Among the findings of the new Eurobarometer survey:
* The most popular choices: Italy was the most frequently mentioned planned holiday destination for 2011 (11.5 per cent). Spain came second with 8.6 per cent followed by France (8.2 per cent). Twenty-three per cent of EU residents have not decided yet where to spend their holidays.
* Continuing trend towards discovering Europe and the home country: In 2011 58 per cent of Europeans plan to spend their holidays in their own country or in another EU country..
* Increasing appetite for travelling: Almost three-quarters of (73 per cent vs 69 per cent last year) EU citizens travelled for leisure or business in 2010. The top five travellers are the residents of Finland (89 per cent), Denmark (87 per cent), the Netherlands, Sweden (both 87 per cent), Luxembourg (85 per cent) and Norway (84 per cent).
* "Local attractiveness" matters: 32 per cent named it as the major consideration when choosing holiday destinations, followed by "cultural heritage" (27 per cent) and "entertainment possibilities" (14 per cent).
* Seeking "rest and recreation" was the main motivation for over a third of the leisure travellers (36 per cent), followed by "sun and beach" (18 per cent) and "visiting friends and relatives" (17 per cent).
* Arranging their holidays individually: over half of EU citizens organised their main holidays themselves in 2010 (57 per cent); this is even more popular in the candidate countries Turkey (80 per cent), Iceland (79 per cent) and Croatia (78 per cent).
More than 30 000 randomly-selected citizens aged 15 and over, were interviewed in February 2011 in the 27 EU member states as well as in Norway, Iceland, Croatia, Turkey and Macedonia. It is the third consecutive year that the Commission has done such a survey.