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Europe’s Tourism Sector Resilient Despite Growing Global Risks

The travel and tourism market in Europe has managed to remain strong in light of emerging risks including a global economic slowdown, conflict, global health crises, sustainability, and climate disasters, but the European Travel Commission (ETC) is still calling for vigilance.

According to the ETC’s latest quarterly report titled “European Tourism Trends and Prospects”, despite a 4 percent increase in international tourist arrivals to Europe in 2019, the year ahead may be bumpy.

“Notwithstanding reduced trade tensions internationally and further clarity surrounding Brexit, heightened risks cannot be overlooked,” said ETC Executive Director Eduardo Santander.

“The sector must seek to mitigate against these risks given the importance of tourism for European economic and social development,” he added.

The ETC is urging tourism stakeholders to examine ways to diversify marketing and promotion strategies, address shifts in consumer behaviour, strengthen collaboration among destinations, and increase measures to foster the sustainable development of tourism with the aim of ensuring that all destinations remain competitive in the long run.

The report goes on to note the importance of sustainable practices so that destinations avoid being the “victim of their own success”.

Referring to the improved performance of Montenegro, Turkey, and Lithuania, which recorded double-digit increases in tourist arrivals, as well as to Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, and The Netherlands, the report’s analysts attribute the positive trends to greater connectivity, infrastructure investment, and diversification.

Also driving the high run in 2019, the report refers to the value of the dollar against the euro, which has made Europe an affordable travel destination.

The ETC report goes on to examine the possibility of tourism taxes and on how such taxes could be levied in an environment where competition has all but eroded.

One of the most recent challenges, according to the ETC, is the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus during the key travel season for China, and its impact on the global tourism sector.

According to report, European destinations are set to see the number of Chinese arrivals decline this year – compared to pre-crisis estimates – to range between 7 and 25 percent.

Indicatively, in 2019 Montenegro saw an 83 percent rise in the number of Chinese travelers, Serbia a 39 percent rise, and Monaco a 38 percent increase.

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