Europe is a hot spot for tourists. According to the European Union Tourism Trends Report 2019, five out of the top ten visited destinations in the world are located in the Europe. Prior to COVID-19, there were 713 million international arrivals in Europe; this has increased from 670 million in 2017. Tourism to European continent contributed €782 billion in 2018 and generated 14.4 million jobs in the European Union’s (EU’s) economy.  The average of International tourism revenue; percent of GDP in the European Union for 2018 based on 27 countries was 5.59 percent. Outbound tourism is the act of travelling ‘out’ of your home country for the purposes of tourism, and half of the world’s outbound tourism is generated from Europe. Before the pandemic, residents of European Union took 1.2 billion trips that account for 50% of the world’s tourist arrivals and 37% of global tourism receipts. Moreover, 35% of the world’s global tourism expenditure is generated from the Europe, which makes this continent as the most visited region in the world.  This shows that European tourism has become a key driver of socio-economic progress, providing many jobs within the travel industry. The phenomenal culture, beautiful scenery and delicious food are some of the many reasons why tourists love visiting Europe. Let us explore Europe through quick scan.

Traditionally, Europe is divided into four regions: Northern Europe, Western Europe, Southern Europe, and Eastern Europe. The British Isles are often considered a separate region but can be included as a part of Western Europe. These regions are purely geographical regions that may share similar physical geography or cultural traits. But for political purposes Europe is divided into two regions Western and Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe is everything east of Germany, Austria, and Italy, and rest is Western Europe. These political labels are used for regional analysis whereas regional labels are used more for identification.  There are different classifications of countries in sub-regions of Europe available like, UN geo scheme classification, CIA classification etc. But To explore the tourism dimension of Europe let us travel clockwise using Euro-Voc classification.

Northern Europe:

Northern Europe (NE) has traditionally included Iceland, Finland, and the three Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. These countries are often referred to as the Nordic countries. You must have watched Viking series on Netflix; the Nordic Countries are influenced by Viking heritage and expansion.  In NE there is special language diversification, like Finnish is not an Indo-European language but is instead from the Uralic language family, whereas languages of rest of the Nordic countries are from the Germanic language group and are mutually intelligible. Peripheral isolation from the rest of Europe has allowed the northern culture to be preserved for centuries.  The stunning landscape of Koli National Park in Finland is sense catching. It’s totally unspoiled and non-commercialized. If you want to immerse yourself to the full in the Finnish experience, try this park. The skiing, cycling, and canoeing come highly recommended as does the fantastic Koli Relax Spa. The five miles long Oresund Underwater Bridge which links Sweden with Denmark is the longest road and railway bridge in the world. Oresund Underwater Bridge is visible from the air when you fly into Copenhage and is one of the visual feasts. Driving over the Oresund Bridge is a surreal experience. One minute you’re cruising almost two hundred feet above the water the next plunging down to over thirty feet below it. In less than fifteen minutes you can leave Sweden and be in Denmark or vice versa. The Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock is one of nature’s unique rock formations and is the most famous viewpoint in Norway. It is a two thousand feet high, the flat-topped cliff looms over the glacial blue waters of the Lysefjord below. This cliff will not be the climb which takes your breath away though, it will be the views you are compensated with when you reach the top. If you ever wondered what it might be like to have your own private island, you need to sail around the Stockholm Archipelago. The Stockholm Archipelago is world renowned for the quality of its food. The islands are peppered with farm shops where you can try and purchase local food stuffs which have been ecologically produced. This is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Only one word for it: amazing. Råbjerg Mile and Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse in Denmark, The Atlantic Road in Norway, Ice Hotel of Sweden, Lofoten Islands and Geirangerfjord in Norway are few tourist attraction spots in Northern Europe. To put it simple, Northern Europe is on top of the global index in the eight categories: economy, education, entrepreneurship & opportunity, governance, health, personal freedom, safety & security and social capital. So why to miss experiencing such a European region?

Western Europe:

The countries in this sub-region of Europe are Andorra Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. It may not be the most budget-friendly areas of the world to travel, but there is no doubt that Western Europe (WE) holds some serious treasures that have to be explored at least once in a lifetime. Out of many, let us discover some tourist attractions in WE. Vianna and Salzburg in Austria are the most serene sights you can ever imagine. Dublin and Galwan in Ireland takes you to historic squares, winding streets, castles, parks and Atlantic Ocean charm. Berlin, Hamburg, and Munic in Germany offers an astounding life of fun and frolic.  Lucerne and Interlaken in Switzerland unveil lakeside setting, amazing Medieval architecture, snow-capped backdrop, epic train rides through dazzling landscape, boat tours, hiking, waterfall trips, castle sightseeing and cave days. Mont Blanc of France, the highest mountain in the Alps and the EU. The epic 170km Tour Du Mont Blanc is one of the best hiking experiences there to have in WE. Normandy is the most culturally distinct regions of France. This place opens up remote villages and a rural way of life that can leave you feeling a sense of freedom and slower pace of existence that is often hard to grasp in the urbanized world. United Kingdome needs no introduction. In its totality, there is magnetism in WE, and it pulls in tourist from around the world.  

Southern Europe:

According to Euro-Voc classification Southern Europe (SE) is comprised of countries like, Cyprus, Greece, Holy See, Italy, Malta, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, and Turkey. Italy has Rome, Florence, Siciliy, and Capri in Naples. These places in Italy are home to majestic historic sites (Pisa Tower, Pantheon, Renaissance wall of Lucca, Cathedrals etc.), art galleries, and best pizzas. Mykonos island, Santorini, Athens, Meteora and  Ionion Islands in Greece welcome you to a journey toward great Greek history. With an amazing ambience and architecture that seamlessly combines the old and the new, Valencia in Spain is a living, working and breathing city that’s very much alive. Andalusia Region; Seville, Granada, Cadiz, is having epic beaches. Whole region is a feast for the culture vultures, active adventurers and strong sightseers. Turkey is embellished with Byzantine glory of the Aya Sofya museum, mighty ruin of Ephesus, swooping rock valleys of Cappadocia, pure white travertine terraces of Pamukkale, Ölüdeniz; the Turkey’s most famous beach and lot more. In its entirety Southern Europe is a full meal for touristic stomach. 

Eastern Europe:

Eastern Europe (EE) is a region that exists between Asia and Western Europe. In a recent history of around 150 years, this region has witnessed immense cultural and ethnic transactions. Baltic States, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungry, Montenegro, Croatia, and Slovenia are included in EE. From Prague Castle across the famous Charles Bridge to the Old Town Square, the Czech capital offers history and architecture that rivals any European city. The magic of Budapest in Hungry lies in is its stunning historical architecture. The seaside Croatian city of Split mixes stunning scenery, sparkling blue water with old-world charm. Medieval towns, magnificent mountains, breathtaking beaches and charismatic locals’ hospitality are the best thing you get in Montenegro. Latvia’s Jurmala, the largest resort area in the Baltics, and ideal for a relaxing getaway. Jurmala’s white sand beaches are best for leisurely stroll. .  Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia is often considered one of the greenest cities in Europe. But once you get an eyeful of its expansive green spaces and car-free city center, it’s easy to see why. To sum up, Eastern Europe is an exciting blend of varied cultures and fantastic places.

These few lines are not enough to explore the magnificence of European Tourism. There is lot more to explore that is only possible through stretching our welcoming and tight handshake with European Union (EU). Strengthening relations of Pakistan with EU will be mutually beneficial for the tourism industry of both the countries, especially in post COVID world.