Germany just posted the latest in a series of strong reports for Europe’s tourism numbers.
The country has reported that in 2016 it registered over 80 million overnight stays by international visitors for the first time, setting a tourism record for the seventh straight year.
In 2016 the German Federal Statistical Office recorded 80.8 million international overnight stays in accommodation establishments with a minimum of 10 beds, representing an increase of 1.1 million over the previous year and a 1.4 percent growth in tourism over 2015.
“Two of the basic prerequisites for this achievement are tolerance and cosmopolitanism, being open to the world,” said Iris Gleicke, German Federal Government Commissioner for Tourism and Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, in a written release. “We will not allow xenophobic loudmouths to ruin our country’s good reputation!”
Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), warned that economic factors like Brexit or financial crises in major source markets, or security concerns like terrorism, could temporarily dampen tourism from individual source markets.
“However, in the mid and long term, the value of a country’s brand as a travel destination is characterized by its touristic appeal, infrastructure, customer service orientation and its cost/performance ratio,” Herdorfer said.
Europe was the largest source market for Germany in 2016, with a 73.7 percent market share and a 1.9 percent increase. Travel from Asia fell 1.1 percent, while the Americas increased 1.2 percent.
The United States was the largest source market from abroad, and grew 2.5 percent in 2016.
The report is the latest in a series of strong signs for the fundamental demand for travel to Europe. In its 2017 Travel Trends Survey, Travel Leaders Group found that 84.5 percent of its agents are reporting that Mediterranean cruise sales are higher than or the same as this time last year. In an earlier study on luxury travel, Travel Leaders Group agents ranked European river cruises as the top luxury destination outside of North America, with Italy at #2, Mediterranean cruises at #3, France at #5, England at #6, Baltic cruises at #7, Ireland at #8 and Iceland tied for #13.
At the same time, the European Union’s (EU) European Parliament voted yesterday to rescind visa-free travel from Germany’s largest source market from abroad – the United States. The vote is nonbinding, and part of a much longer-running dispute between the European Union and the United States over visa reciprocity, in which the EU has been asking the U.S. to comply with its rules regarding visa-free travel and offer visa free access to all of its members. (The U.S. currently requires visas from Poland, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria.)
Should the EU move to rescind visa-free travel from the U.S, however, the administrative hurdles would be severe – in a statement released last year the European Commission had said that it is “highly unlikely” that EU members would be able to process the increased number of applications resulting from a suspension within 90 days, leading to a decrease in the number of travelers from the United States.