Old synagogue in Essen, Germany
Every year, Europe specialists, tour operators, agents and the media attend the European Travel Commission TransAtlantic Conference to learn about recent trends in the continent’s travel scene, and what the pros think the future holds. On a recent snowy morning, hundreds of Europhiles gathered at The Times Center in Manhattan to get the latest updates.
Jean-Philippe Pérol, chairman of the European Travel Commission, said that travel from America to Europe fell by 12 percent last year, but is on the rise again in new and improved ways. The commission, he continued, expects European travel to increase 3 to 4 percent over the next year, especially with three Capitals of Culture for visitors to explore (Essen in Germany, Istanbul in Turkey and Pecs in Hungary).
Recent notable trends include extended visits to the “sunny belt” in southern Europe, and an increase in wine-focused tours. Book- and movie-related tourism has also become a popular niche, Pérol noted, and travelers can go on tours retracing Julia Child’s culinary footsteps or visit famous sites from Sherlock Holmes’ stories. Responsible travel has grown from a trend to a niche, with Sweden, Austria and Romania especially focused on green tourism. “Business will be back,” Pérol said, “but business as unusual!”