International tourism

Tourism generates more than 5% of the EU’s GDP. The industry employs about 9.7 million people – 5.2% of the workforce. Europe attracts more visitors than any other region, with five EU countries among the top 10 destinations last year. It's easy to see why - a well preserved cultural heritage, open borders and efficient infrastructure makes visiting Europe a breeze, and rarely will you have to travel more than a few hours before you can immerse yourself in a new culture, and dive into a different phrasebook. Although it is the world's smallest continent in land surface area, there are profound differences between the cultures and ways of life in its countries. But Europe faces growing competition, especially from Asia and South America. The sector is also under pressure from population ageing and climate change – and continues to be plagued by seasonal ups and downs. Europe was home to some of the world's most advanced civilisations, which has led to an astonishing cultural heritage today. Ancient Greece has been credited with the foundation of Western culture, and has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and arts of the European continent. Ancient Greek structures are scattered over Greece and Turkey, including Delphi, Olympia, Sparta, Ephesus, Lycia and of course the Parthenon in Athens. Ancient Greece was followed by the Roman Empire, one of the greatest civilisations in the world that took hold of large swathes of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Visiting Roman ruins in Rome is a no-brainer, with the magnificent Colosseum, Pantheon and the Roman Forum. Many Roman ruins can also be found in Spain, such as the remains at Merida, Italica, Segovia, Toledo and Terragona. With 47 sites, Italy has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites of any country in the world, directly followed by Spain with 43. In conclusion because of all these factors is Europe's most visited continent in the world and probably will remain so for long time.

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