European travelers preferred city trips and safer destinations to the traditional sea & sun deals while the number of Asian tourists declined for 2016, according to the 24th World Travel Monitor Forum held in Pisa, Italy, in November.
Despite the challenges affecting tourism however, prospects for European outbound travel in 2017 appear to be positive: “People will still go for holidays, they are just changing the type of holiday and the destinations. They are going to places that they perceive as safe,” said Paco Buerbaum, CEO of IPK International.
IPK expects a 4 percent rise in European outbound trips in 2017, based on its European Travel Confidence Index which measures travel intentions for the next year. Ireland (at 8 percent), Denmark and the UK (at 7 percent) have the highest scores in confidence ratings with Finland, Belgium, Switzerland and France not far behind.
Outbound travel by Europeans, meanwhile, grew by 2.5 percent in the first eight months of 2016, according to World Travel Monitor figures with trips to destinations within Europe up by 3 percent as travelers stayed closer to home. Top performers were Poland and Ireland up by 7 percent, the UK, Netherlands, Spain and Denmark increased by 6 percent, and Germany was stronger by 4 percent.
The number of holiday trips by Europeans increased by a moderate 2 percent. Europeans preferred city trips in the first eight months of 2016, which increased by 15 percent with overall average spending per trip at 910 euros. At the same time, the number of sun & beach holidays took a 5 percent dive.
European destinations affected by the changing trend included heavyweights such as Italy, Greece and Germany, which reported a low growth of 1-3 percent, while Spain and Portugal welcomed more tourists from abroad, and Britain enjoyed an 8 percent increase in international visitor numbers largely due to the weaker pound. The biggest losers this year were Turkey, France and Belgium after the terrorist strikes there.
The above trends are also reflected in recent World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) figures which show that international arrivals grew by 1.6 percent between January and September 2016, significantly lower than the 4.6 percent growth rate marked in 2015.