The hospitality industry in the EU currently employs some 9.5 million workers, spread out across 1.7 million enterprises. This represents, respectively, 4,4% of total employment in Europe and 8% of all enterprises in the market-oriented economy.
In recent years, the hospitality industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors in Europe in terms of employment. The number of persons employed rose by 1.9 million from 7.4 to 9,3 million between 2003 and 2008. The hospitality industry is very labour intensive which means that growth has a strong employment impact. Between 2003 and 2007, the employment growth was over 21% in the hospitality industry compared to about only 6% in the whole economy. But even in crisis times, between 2008 and 2010, the sector provided for around 200.000 people new jobs.
Hotels and restaurants are major employers of young people: about half of the work force is below 35 years of age. There are more women than men working in the sector (55 and 45% respectively). Almost 71% of employment contracts are full-time.
Hospitality enterprises are predominantly of small and medium-size: 99% have less than 50 employees and as many as 92% have fewer than ten workers on their payroll. The latter are defined as "micro-enterprises”.
Hotels and restaurants are obviously an important component of the tourism industry, although it should be noted that restaurants serve locals as well as tourists. Europe is the largest tourism destination in the world with a market share of around 50%, representing some 475 million international arrivals. People are spending over 1.5 billion nights in hotels and similar establishments in the EU27.
For more statistical information on the European hospitality and tourism industry, please refer to Eurostat.