France set to lose its title as Europe’s second-most visited country

France set to lose its title as Europe’s second-most visited country

This European country has seen a 70 per cent increase in visitors since the pandemic.

If you think European holiday destinations have been crowded this year, you’re right.

With tourism booming throughout 2023, Europe’s visitor numbers are finally on par with pre-pandemic levels.

Measured in terms of spending, inbound travel will also be worth 19 per cent more than 2019, according to the recently published WTM Global Travel Report in association with Tourism Economics.

Plus, one country has seen a staggering surge in visitor numbers and is pegged to overtake France as the second most visited country in Europe in 2024.


Türkiye sees over 70 per cent increase in visitor numbers

Although the overall number of visits to Europe has dropped by 3 per cent from 440 million in 2019 to 428 million in 2023, Türkiye has seen skyrocketing figures.

The country recorded a 73 per cent hike in visitor numbers compared to 2019.

As such, it outperforms Europe’s two biggest markets, France and Spain, which are 33 per cent and 31 per cent up on 2019 respectively.

Croatia, the region’s tenth biggest market, has been another standout performer with 2023 expected to come in 51 per cent ahead of pre-pandemic levels.


What’s behind Türkiye’s tourism boom?

With the falling Turkish lira, holidays to Türkiye have become more affordable for many travellers.

The country’s coastline of crystalline water and high-end resorts has become a more budget-friendly alternative to the Italian Riviera or France’s Côte d’Azur.

Istanbul attracts visitors to its buzzing neighbourhoods and spectacular Ottoman architecture while Ephesus on the west coast is an ancient marvel of colossal monuments.

In the heart of Türkiye, visitors can experience Cappadocia’s otherworldly rock-carved landscape from hot air balloons and cave hotels.

It’s also one of the only European destinations not to have banned flights from Russia, with a total of 7 million Russians expected to visit Türkiye in 2023 versus around 5 million in 2022.


What will be the most visited country in 2024?

The WTM report also predicts that Türkiye’s appeal will continue into 2024 and will overtake France as the second most visited country in Europe.

The organisation forecasts continued growth for Spain, France and Türkiye, increasing in value by 74, 80 and 72 per cent respectively.