BRUSSELS - According to the latest European Travel Commission's "European Tourism 2017-Trends & Prospects", international tourist arrivals to Europe grew 8% in the first 8 months of the year compared to the same period in 2016. Despite lingering security concerns and geopolitical tensions, most destinations (32 out of 34) saw increases in tourist arrivals with over half enjoying double-digit growth.
Iceland (+30%) maintains its momentum despite concerns about accommodation capacity and infrastructure constraints. Destinations previously affected by safety challenges appear to be recovering; Turkey (+26%) posted an impressive rebound helped by the surge in Russian outbound flows while Belgium (+12%) also saw healthy growth. Top performers were also Southern/Mediterranean destinations Slovenia, Serbia (both +19%), Malta (+17%) and Cyprus (+15%). Spain showed its resilience to the August terror attacks in Barcelona, reporting a 10% increase in visitor arrivals.
Europe's Largest Source Markets Remain Key to Sustain Growth
"European tourism demand is set on an upward trajectory. This momentum is expected to mark the eight consecutive year of growth despite safety and geopolitical challenges. To sustain growth tourism stakeholders, need to unite efforts and develop initiatives to strengthen the European tourism industry" said Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission.
More than 3 in 4 destinations reported some form of growth from the UK year-to-date. A weakened pound failed to deter British holidaymakers to travel internationally. Russian travel flows to Europe are recovering after years of decline. Among 33 destinations, all but one enjoyed a rebound from this market. Turkey featured the greatest growth (+800%) after Russia lifted travel restrictions of its citizens visiting Turkey.
European destinations saw substantial increases in arrivals from China with growth estimated at 17% in 2017. The strengthening of the Chinese economy and the rapid expansion of its middle-class continue to stimulate outbound travel. Despite some recent weakening, a stronger US dollar continues to fuel transatlantic trips with year-to-date estimates pointing at a 14% increase in arrivals. Indian travel to Europe also delivered a solid performance (+14%). Growth is helped by a positive consumer confidence and private consumption, both expected to continue boosting travel demand and increase the importance of India as a source market.