According to the European Travel Commission's latest report, "European Tourism - Trends & Prospects 2018", 32 out of 34 reporting destinations registered some form of growth over the summer period, with 1 in 4 enjoying double-digit expansion in arrivals. Europe saw a 7 percent increase in international tourist arrivals the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017, with growth led by southern and Mediterranean destinations.
Turkey (+23%) saw double-digit increases from all reported source markets. Fading security concerns and the depreciation of the lira added to Turkey's attractiveness to foreign travelers. Sizeable increases were also recorded in Greece (+19%) thanks to its seasonal appeal and diversified offering, whereas in Serbia (+15%) a visa-free policy for Chinese travelers and better air connectivity boosted arrivals growth. Malta (+16%) benefitted from its capital being a designated European Capital of Culture in 2018. In Iceland (+6%) robust travel demand from the U.S. and Russia was able to offset declines from a wide range of source markets, while "borrowed" market share now returning to Northern Africa and Turkey may explain Spain's slowdown (-0.1%).
Amidst escalating trade wars and volatile economic conditions, travel demand from Europe's key long-haul source markets remains solid. In the U.S., economic expansion and a stronger dollar underpin sustained income and consumption growth. Virtually all reporting destinations posted growth from this market which is expected to increase by 8 percent in 2018. Chinese travelers were a source of extensive arrivals growth in several Balkan destinations based on year-to-date data. The Turkey Tourism year in China supported the upsurge in visitor numbers in Turkey (+87%) while improved air connectivity drove growth in Serbia (+104%), Montenegro (+64%) and Croatia (+41%).