Travel agencies statistics - NACE Rev. 1.1

From Statistics Explained

Data from January 2009. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.

This article belongs to a set of statistical articles which analyse the structure, development and characteristics of the various economic activities in the European Union (EU). According to the statistical classification of economic activities in the EU (NACE Rev 1.1), the present article covers travel agencies statistics, corresponding to NACE Group 63.3, which is part of the transport and storage sector. Travel agencies are enterprises that are engaged in arranging transport, accommodation and catering on behalf of travellers.

Figure 1: Activities of travel agencies and tour operators; tourist assistance activities n.e.c. (NACE Group 63.3). Proportion of individuals (aged 16 to 74) who use the Internet, who used the Internet for travel and accommodation services in the three months prior to the survey, 2008 (%)

Main statistical findings

Structural profile

Table 1: Activities of travel agencies and tour operators; tourist assistance activities n.e.c. (NACE Group 63.3). Structural profile: ranking of top five Member States in terms of value added and persons employed, 2006

There were approximately 78.2 thousand enterprises in the travel agencies activity (NACE Group 63.3) in the EU-27 in 2006 and they employed a total of 484.7 thousand persons. Together these generated EUR 153.2 billion of turnover and EUR 19.3 billion of value added. This sector accounted for 12.7 % of the transport services (NACE Divisions 60 to 63) turnover, but just 4.8 % of its value added, while its share of the transport services workforce was 5.5 %.

The very different turnover and value added shares reflects the nature of this activity which is quite different from the other transport services, in that it often involves the purchase and resale of travel and accommodation services; as such this activity is similar to a distributive trades activity. The United Kingdom and Germany were by far the largest contributors to the wealth and employment generated by travel agencies in the EU-27 as together they accounted for 53.0 % of the value added and 36.8 % of the workforce. In value added terms these two Member States were also relatively specialised in the travel agencies sector, although not to the same extent as Cyprus (2005) which generated 1.1 % of its non-financial business economy value added in this sector [1].

Expenditure and productivity

The travel agencies sector may be contrasted with the other transport services covered by the transport and storage sector in that its gross tangible investment expenditure was particularly low, just EUR 1.5 billion in the EU-27 in 2006. As such, this sector stood out from the other transport services as gross tangible investment was equivalent to 7.8 % of value added, only just over one quarter of the average investment rate for transport services (28.5 %).

An analysis of operating expenditure in 2006 also shows a particularly low share of personnel costs for the activities of travel agencies (8.1 %) within the EU-27, again reflecting the high purchases of goods and services that are resold to customers. Average personnel costs and apparent labour productivity were also low, EUR 27.5 thousand per employee and EUR 39.8 thousand per person employed respectively. These two relatively low average values counterbalanced each other such that the wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio for the activities of travel agencies (144.7 %) was almost identical to the transport services’ average. Austria and Luxembourg both recorded wage adjusted labour productivity ratios below parity (100 %), indicating that average personnel costs were higher than apparent labour productivity [2], while Germany was the only Member State to record a wage adjusted labour productivity ratio for travel agencies that was significantly above the average ratio for the non-financial business economy.

Data sources and availability

The main part of the analysis in this article is derived from structural business statistics (SBS), including core, business statistics which are disseminated regularly, as well as information compiled on a multi-yearly basis, and the latest results from development projects.

Other data sources include Eurostat information society statistics.


The transport and storage sector focuses on transport services provided to clients for hire and reward. When analysing transport traffic volumes (for example, tonnes of freight) as presented in this article, it is important to bear in mind that these include own account transport as well as transport services for hire and reward. This is particularly important in road transport where, for example, a manufacturer might collect materials or deliver own output, rather than contracting a transport service enterprise to do this. Equally, the use of own vehicles (typically passenger cars) accounts for a very large part of passenger transport. Such own account transport does not contribute towards the statistics on the transport services sector.

EU transport policy is based upon the 2001 White paper ‘European transport policy for 2010: time to decide’ and the 2006 mid-term review in the European Commission's communication (COM(2006) 314) ‘Keep Europe moving – sustainable mobility for our continent’. In 2007 the European Commission adopted a communication (COM(2007) 606) on ‘Keeping freight moving’, to make rail freight more competitive, facilitate modernisation of ports, and review progress in the development of sea shipping.

Environmental issues remain of great importance to this sector, as transport is a major source of emissions and noise. In 2008 the European Commission put forward a package of measures related to road and rail transport referred to as ‘Greening Transport’. This included a communication (COM(2008) 433) summarising the packages and initiatives planned for 2009, a strategy to internalise the cost of transport externalities, a proposal for a Directive on road tolls for lorries, and a communication on rail noise. The overall thrust of the package is to try to move towards more sustainable transport.

Travel agents act as retailers selling travel services or packaged trips to the customer. Traditionally, tour operators acted as wholesalers to travel agents, while more recently they have moved towards selling directly to customers. Tourist guides and tourist information services play a supporting role, offering information and services usually at the tourism destination. Like airlines, tour operators also faced trading difficulties in 2008: for example, the United Kingdom's third largest operator, XL leisure group (which also operated XL airways), declared bankruptcy in September 2008.

More than half of all individuals (aged 16 to 74 that use the Internet), made use of on-line services for travel and/or accommodation. This may include research or bookings, and may be directly with travel and accommodation providers, or with intermediaries.

Further Eurostat information


Main tables


Dedicated section

Other information

  • COM(2006) 314 of 22 June 2006 on Keep Europe moving - Sustainable mobility for our continent
  • COM(2007) 606 of 18 October 2007 on The EU's freight transport agenda: Boosting the efficiency, integration and sustainability of freight transport in Europe
  • COM(2008) 433 of 8 July 2008 on Greening Transport

External links

See also


  1. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania, 2005; Malta and the Netherlands, not available.
  2. Cyprus and Poland, 2005; Malta, not available.