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Despite Economic Problems, European Travel is StrongNovember 22, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
There is good news for European tourism: despite continuing economic turbulence, European tourism industry figures are up. These are the findings of the ITB World Travel Trends Report, compiled by IPK International and commissioned by ITB Berlin. Among the winners were North and South America, which together registered a 6 percent increase in tourism.
The figures are based on extracts from the European Travel Monitor and World Travel Monitor, as well as on assessments by more than 50 tourism experts and scientists from around the world.
According to the findings, a year-on-year comparison shows that trips out of Europe have increased by 4 percent. Economic uncertainty in many European countries has not affected travel spending, which has risen by 2 percent.
According to UNTWO, from January to August 2011, international trips to Europe rose to 671 million, an increase of 4.5 percent. The forecast for next year is positive, too. In September 2011, travelers from 13 European countries were asked whether and how often they intended to travel next year.
Forty-three percent said they would be traveling as often in 2012 as this year. Twenty-seven percent aimed to travel more. By contrast, 20 percent said they would be traveling less than in 2011. Overall, IPK’s “European Travel Confidence Index" lies at 103 points for 2012, indicating 2-3 percent growth next year. This would represent solid growth and would mean a new all-time high number of trips, ahead of the previous record year of 2008, the study notes.
Martin Buck, director of the Competence Center Travel and Logistics at Messe Berlin, said, “Despite the difficulties experienced by various eurozone countries, Europe’s travel industry has, to date, made it safely through 2011. In particular, stable prices and easy online booking procedures have ensured that Europe continues to attract international travelers and also remains the world’s leading source market."
The Swiss were noted as particularly keen travelers. The number of trips they took grew by 9 percent. They were followed by Sweden (7 percent) and Belgium (6 percent), respectively. Germans were more restrained. In 2011, the number of trips they took rose by only 1 percent.
According to the European Travel Monitor, compared with 2010, short-haul trips grew by 4 percent and made up 90 percent of trips overall. An extra 3 percent decided to travel long distance. The number of short trips with 1 to 3 overnights, rose by 10 percent, while figures for longer stays stagnated.
As far as shorter journeys, respondents among the 13 European nations polled preferred trips to northern, central, and southwestern European regions. Due to the political revolutions in countries, such as Tunisia and Egypt, many tourists avoided North Africa, which suffered losses of 15 percent. Travel to the Asia-Pacific region stagnated, too, due to a drop in trips to Japan following the Fukushima disaster. The winners were North and South America, which together registered a 6 percent increase in tourism.
Among European travelers, major cities were popular again this year. City breaks were among the most popular form of travel, rising by 10 percent, followed by round trips (8 percent), and beach holidays (6 percent). By contrast, trips to rural regions and ski holidays fell by 7 and 5 percent, respectively. European travelers clearly like to save money getting to their destination: low-cost flights rose by 10 percent, while traditional air travel suffered a 4 percent drop.
Bookings by smartphones have made no significant impact to date. Only 3 percent of European travelers said they used mobile devices to make their travel reservations. Ninety-seven percent of Internet users booked their trips via a PC or laptop. As far as booking accommodation is concerned, online reservations (63 percent) have now already overtaken bookings by telephone or in person (37 percent).
The details of European travel trends will be presented by the ITB World Travel Trends Report, which will be published in early December.