Stats: Travel to Europe Up 8 Percent in 2017

(Chart by European Travel Commission)

Europe had a big year for tourism in 2017, with tourism up in almost all major destinations, as well as the recovery of places that had been impacted by terrorism and security concerns in 2016, according to a new study by the European Travel Commission (ETC). The ETC’s European Tourism 2017 – Trends & Prospects report shows an 8 percent growth in overall tourism year over year in 2017, with more than half of destinations reporting growth of over 10 percent.

Turkey (+28%) experienced an impressive rebound in visitor arrivals with growth largely driven by Russian outbound flows (+465.2%). Iceland (+24%), the fastest growing destination since 2012, showed robust results while its government considers measures to address "over tourism," the ETC said.

Destinations in Southern/Mediterranean Europe, such as Montenegro (+19%), Serbia (+18%) Malta (+16%), Slovenia and Cyprus (both +15%), also boosted growth and have proved their success in overcoming seasonality, the ETC said. Finland (+14%) enjoyed a solid increase, fueled by Chinese and Indian arrivals. Established summer destinations Croatia (+14%), Portugal (+12%) and Spain (+9%) also saw healthy growth. In Spain political tensions in Catalonia seem not have weighed down tourism demand while improved air connectivity continues to underpin Portugal's strong performance.

Strengthening Economic Conditions in Key Source Markets Boost European Tourism Demand

Economic growth in the U.S. is projected to continue in 2018, the ETC said, as strong consumer confidence will drive household spending. Despite steady growth in the U.S. economy, relatively high uncertainty over future trade policy remains and has the potential to hinder medium-term growth prospects. International tourist arrivals from the U.S. to Europe are estimated at 30.6 million in 2017, a 12 percent increase compared to the year prior. In China, tourism growth continues to be aided by improving air connections between China and Europe and its growing middle class will continue to drive outbound travel growth this year. In 2017, Europe welcomed 12.1 million Chinese visitor arrivals (+16% versus 20160, an outstanding performance compared to the flat growth rate seen in 2016.

Growth from the UK largely continued despite a weakened pound, with several destinations posting double-digit increases. France and Germany continued to be a source of notable arrivals growth for several European destinations, aided by encouraging economic conditions that support private consumption.

Russian outbound travel has picked up following years of declines. All but one reporting destinations enjoyed a strong rebound in arrivals from this market. Despite some recent softening, a stronger U.S. dollar and competitive air fares contributed to growth in tourist arrivals from the US, up +12% in 2017 compared to 2016.

Source: European Travel Commission

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