More than 1 in 4 EU residents cannot afford an annual holiday away, according to Eurostat. Stuck at home the most are Romanians. Top vacationers are Swedes. Heavily excluded are solo parents and their children.
Taking a one-week annual holiday away from home remains an unaffordable wish for 28% of the European Union's 514 million residents, according to average vacation data freshly updated by the EU's statistics agency Eurostat, based in Luxembourg.
For Europe's solo parents with dependent children, holiday joy is even more elusive. According to the Eurostat data batch, 44% on average could not afford a weeklong annual holiday last year, regarded as a benchmark on how far people can participate in social life.
Among the most-excluded were solo families in Cyprus (72%) and Hungary (63%), with Romanian (59%) and British (57%) solo parents indicating they had not been able to afford time away with their children.
Across all age and family categories, Eurostat found that last year only 1 in 10 Swedes (9.7%) ended up stuck at home, indicating, in reverse, that Swedes benefit the most among all EU residents in actually being able to afford a break.
Holidays away elusive for Romanians, Croatians
Worst placed on average in being unable to afford to pay for a "one-week annual holiday away from home" were Romanians (58.9%) and Croatians (51.3%).
Germany ranked in the upper middle-field on average with only 14.7% of its population unable to afford a vacation, clustered alongside Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Trailing were France, where only 22.6% of residents were unable to afford a break, Britain (22.5%) and Spain (34.2%) In Italy, 43.7% of residents were unable to afford a weeklong vacation away.
Overall trend improves
Updates for Poland and Luxembourg were unavailable, but in 2017, the average number of people unable to afford a holiday was 38.4% in Poland and 10.9% in Luxembourg.
Europe's social-inclusion benchmark has, however, improved since 2010.
Back then, 37.3% of EU residents could not afford an annual holiday, compared with the 27.9% shown in Eurostat's latest data batch updated Thursday.
Solo parents with children left out
Despite high national wealth, Sweden and Germany performed less well when it came to solo parents with dependent children.
One in 5 such households in Sweden could not afford an annual holiday away, while in Germany last year, 31% of solo families had to give it a miss.
"A holiday trip is for many people an unattainable luxury," said Sabine Zimmermann, the chairperson of the German parliament's Committee for Families, Elderly, Women and Youth.
"Not being able to travel is a sign of poverty, which finally must be tackled effectively," said Zimmermann, a member of Germany's ex-communist Left party and a former trade union organizer in Germany's eastern state of Saxony.
EU tourists spend mostly within bloc
Vacationing Europeans spend 79% of their funds within the EU's 28 member states, according to another batch of Eurostat data published last year.
Total tourism outlay worldwide by Europeans in 2016 was an estimated €428 billion ($481 billion), with one in every six euros pegged for business travel.
More than half of the total was spent outside each tourist's country of residence — largely within the EU but also significantly in the Americas and Asia.
The largest holiday spenders abroad were Luxembourg residents (€768), followed by Malta (€646) and Austria (€607).
Germans' keenness to travel was reflected in 28% of EU tourism expenditure being attributed to people from Germany, said Eurostat.
EU tourism sector employs 17 million
There are 17 million people employed in the EU's tourism sector, according to 2017 Eurostat data.
Of these, nearly 1 in 6 were foreign citizens, either from other EU member states (9%) or non-EU states (7%).
In a climate-rescue reminder on Friday, Germany's energy utility EON urged holidaymakers not to overlook the reality that their homes consumed "30 to 50% of electricity" although "nobody is at home."
Metering consumption in a pilot group of 100 homes over two years, EON found that fridges and freezers used about half of the power to keep things chilled, while other devices such as laptops were typically left on standby.
ipj/jm (dpa, AFP)