The map shows the tourist destinations of Europe, their spatial and seasonal differentiation and the most important forms of tourism. The historical configuration of the destinations in the periods before and after 1960 makes clear the substantial increase in the importance of tourism as an economic factor in the last few decades.
Coasts and Islands as Destinations
The principal areas from which tourism originates are the heavily-populated industrial countries in the north with their moderate climates and densely-populated cities. The prime destinations are the coasts, and above all the Mediterranean countries and islands, especially Mallorca. These places are among the most-visited destinations on Earth. An outstanding pull factor is the warm, sunny climate, added to which are the extensive coastal strips with their varied landscapes.
Mountains as Destinations
The lower and higher mountain ranges of Europe provide for summer and winter recreation to varying degrees. For winter sports, adequately reliable snow conditions in temperatures that are not too low, easy accessibility and the appropriate infrastructure for example the provision of ascent aids, smooth ski slopes, and recently also large-scale artificial snow facilities on account of global warming are necessary preconditions. By far the most important destination is the Alps. Here, the high-turnover winter tourism is often more strongly developed than summer tourism; in certain regions, for example the Tyrol (outside the valley of the Inn), it even functions as a leading sector of the economy. Other, much less important, districts are to be found scattered in the Scandinavian Mountains, and for preference in the transition zone between the Atlantic and continental climates in the Giant Mountains, the High Tatras, and also in the Pyrenees, the Sierra Nevada, the Dinaric Alps and the Rhodope Mountains. In these regions too, winter tourism is often more extensive than the number of visitors in the summer months.
In the summer, the mountains of the Mediterranean region are traditionally called upon to provide summer coolness in order to escape the great heat, for example the Sabine / Abruzzo Mountains, the Cevennes and the Sierra de Guadarrama. In western, central and northern Europe too, mountainous districts serve for summer recreation. In the lower mountain ranges and their associated river valleys, walking and cycling are the most popular outdoor leisure activities. With the wellness trend, these activities have continuously gained in importance in recent years.
One of the oldest of all forms of tourism is the pilgrimage. Pilgrim destinations are to be found in the European countries with largely Catholic and Greek Orthodox populations.
The locations of spas and health resorts often follow geological lines such as fracture zones and faults. A concentration of spas can also be identified in regions of former volcanic activity such as the French Massif Central. A favourable bioclimate, for example due to stimulating or especially pure air, can also decisively favour the location.
City tourism, which is always cultural tourism as well, is currently the most rapidly growing tourist market segment not least on account of bargain prices offered by low-cost airline operators. City tourism is primarily short-stay tourism with a maximum of four overnight stays. The main attractions are the architectural relics of the city's history, especially secular and sacral monuments, but also museums, theatres, exhibitions, etc. Alongside this, the availability of a wide range of shopping and entertainment facilities plays an important role. A new trend is "event tourism", in which short-term major events in sport (e.g. the European or World Football Cups) or in the field of culture (e.g. art exhibitions or musical weeks) exercise great attraction for visitors.
The city tourism segment also includes professionally-motivated business travel as well as exhibition and congress travel, which is often used as a means to achieve better utilization of accommodation capacities at times of low demand. Overall it is the capital cities that record the lowest seasonal fluctuations and the highest numbers of visitors. In particular the European capital cities and metropolises stand out here as top destinations, for example Vienna with some 9 million overnight stays per year with a typical average length of stay of only 2.3 days.
Cruises and Short Trips
Cruises possess their own character, partly on account of their luxury image. The classic European cruise routes with a length of 10 to 14 days are shown on the map. For many of these sea cruises, undertaken preferably in the summer months, visits to ancient sites are in the foreground. The coasts of the western Mediterranean and the Balearic Islands are mostly visited during week-long cruises from Genoa. A new market segment in recent years has been the club cruise, which tends to appeal to younger travellers. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, cruises to the Nordic regions were popular in the warmer seasons due to the special appeal of the landscape, the midnight sun and the polar lights. From the end of May until September the towns and cities on the Baltic Sea are the destination of many cruises from Kiel, Travemünde, Copenhagen or Rostock, which is currently the most important cruise port in Germany. River cruises are concentrated in the river valleys that have attracted tourists since the romantic age, above all the Rhine. Particularly notable in this context is the upper Middle Rhine Valley between Bingen and Koblenz, which is busy with tourist ships. Also heavily frequented is the Danube, especially the section from Passau to Budapest via Vienna. River cruises also take place on the Elbe, Mosel, Rhône and Volga.
Large-scale and heavily-visited leisure and adventure parks are located, almost without exception, in the vicinity of urban conglomerations and always have very good transport connections. Traditionally they are important for day trippers, but with their integrated theme hotels or associated bungalow parks they have become increasingly important destinations for the short-stay tourism that has boomed in recent years and which increasingly competes with the classic annual family vacation. Disneyland near Paris ranks in first place in Europe with over 12 million visitors per year.
H. Job; Ü: J. Attfield
Keywords: cruise Europe health resort leisure park shipping shipping route spa tourism winter sports centre
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