Stats: Tourism Up 56 Percent in Iceland

Underwater view of the continental split at Silfra in Iceland
Photo by Lindsay Lou/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The strong signs are continuing for Europe’s tourism sector, according to the latest report from the European Travel Commission (ETC).

In the “European Tourism 2017 – Trends & Prospects” study, 28 out of 30 reporting destinations recorded growth so far in 2017, with almost one in two posting double-digit increases. Iceland (+56%) was the fastest growing destination, while Montenegro (+25%), Malta (+23%) and Cyprus (+18%) also say substantial increases. Since these destinations are heavily reliant on peak summer demand, growth outside this period reflects their success in reducing seasonality, the ETC said.

Finland (+18%) and Bulgaria (+17%) also experienced robust growth, according to the report. While the surge in Chinese arrivals boosted growth in the Nordic Nation, Bulgaria seemed to have been an inexpensive alternative to traditional winter destinations. Portugal, Serbia and Croatia (all +15%) fared well helped by strong marketing efforts and improved air connectivity. Turkey (-8%), however, continues to face security challenges that slow the rate of expansion in the country, the ETC said.


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Encouraging economic conditions in the Eurozone seem to be behind the growth in arrivals from Germany, France and Italy, according to the report. Meanwhile, most destinations saw notable increases from the UK with Croatia and Bulgaria enjoying the fastest growth, at +40 percent and +26 percent, respectively. All reporting destinations rebounded from previous falls from Russian travel demand. Although figures do not fully offset the falls registered in previous years, prospects remain optimistic as the economy continues to improve. In the U.S., economic growth and favorable air fares contributed to the strong performance of this market, which is expected to increase 6 percent per year on average through 2021. Travel flows from China and Japan to Europe were weaker than overall outbound travel from these markets due to safety and security concerns across the continent. However, both markets are estimated to have increased 14 percent and 5 percent respectively so far in 2017.

“Despite a stable European domestic market, growth is also driven by long-haul source markets,” said Eduardo Santander, executive director of the ETC, in a written release. “Cheap oil prices, favorable currency exchanges, rising middle classes, improved air connectivity and travel facilitation are contributing significantly to the surge of outbound travel to Europe.”

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