The European Travel Commission (ETC) reports that tourism in the region is continuing to grow steadily despite a number of headwinds, including uncertain trade relationships between the United States and China and slowing Chinese travel demand. The organization’s latest quarterly report, European Tourism – Trends & Prospects 2019, forecasts a growth rate of 3.6 percent for European tourism for the rest of the year, which is in line with the historical average from 2008 – 2018 but lower than that of 2018 (6.1%).
The Balkan region was the top performer in terms of arrivals growth with Montenegro (+50%), Slovenia and Greece (both +8%) showing the benefits of expanded tourism season and niche marketing, the ETC said. Montenegro has benefited from improved air. On the other hand, Iceland (-11%), Romania (-7%) and Estonia (-2%) have reported a decrease up to April. In the case of Iceland, the recent collapse of low-cost carrier WOW Air in March will have exacerbated this decline, according to the ETC, while Estonia’s decrease might be explained by the reduction in arrivals from Russia – one of its largest source markets – which were down 8.7 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
In global terms, Europe has outperformed all other regions, posting 7 percent growth in revenue per kilometer (RPK) in the first four months of the year compared to last year, the ETC said. This growth comes despite the pressure of increased demand and constrained air-traffic control capacity, which has had the impact of increasing possible delays and cancellations, which already had an estimated cost of €17.6bn in 2018 to the EU economy.
Among Europe’s key long-haul source markets, the U.S. and China continue to stand out in terms of their contributions to European tourism growth, accounting for a share of 11 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Greece (+47%), Turkey (+37%), and Cyprus (+33%) saw the most significant increases in arrivals from the U.S. early in the year.