While the final numbers for 2014 have yet to be released, the year seems likely to be a strong one for international travel to Europe, in spite of airline strikes and political conflict in Russia. With overall visitor numbers rising and improving numbers in hotels (especially in the north), Europe seems poised to see a positive 2015.
According to the European Travel Commission’s most recent report, “European Tourism – Trends & Prospects,” European tourism saw a 4 percent increase in foreign visits through August 2014. Growth in large destinations in Southern and Northern Europe exceeded expectations, while smaller destinations also saw positive numbers.
Among Europe’s top destinations by international tourist arrivals, the ETC noted that Spain, the second-most visited destination, grew by 9 percent through August, on top of nearly 61 million visits reported for 2013. At number four, Turkey saw a 7 percent increase, while Germany, the continent’s fifth-most visited destination, is holding steady at 5 percent. At number 10 on the list, Greece grew by 16 percent, which the ETC credits to the recovery of business travel.
The ETC has predicted a “positive outlook” for Europe’s tourism future and expects business to grow by 4 percent for 2014 and by between 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent in 2015. International tourist arrivals to EU destinations are expected to grow by 2.1 percent or 9 million international arrivals per year on average until 2025, while worldwide international arrivals are expected grow faster by 3.5 percent. The Commission noted that these numbers mean that, despite continuous growth, the EU’s share of the international tourism market “will inevitably decline as a result of tourism growing faster in emerging world regions.”
As of press time, the European hotel industry was seeing mixed results compared to 2013’s numbers.
“Each month this year, Europe has reported either flat or positive performance in the three key performance metrics,” Elizabeth Winkle, managing director of STR Global, said in a statement when the company posted its October results in November, noting that the actual average daily rate for the month—€110.42—was the highest STR Global has seen for any October over the last 10 years. “Compared to last year, ADR increased 3.8 percent. The ADR growth is driven mostly by Northern Europe, with help from Southern Europe.
“In Northern Europe, when measured in local currency year to date, markets such as Dublin, London, Copenhagen and Edinburgh have contributed to ADR growth,” Winkle continued. “With the exception of Dublin, the markets mentioned do not use the euro, which has an overall impact on the exchange rate. When measuring in constant currency, year-to-date ADR increased 4.4 percent for the Northern region. Athens, Lisbon and Madrid have all have contributed to Southern Europe’s ADR growth.”
“Year to date, Western Europe still is achieving the highest actual ADR levels (EUR117.34) of all sub-regions,” Winkle continued. “Amsterdam, Geneva, Paris, and Zurich saw the highest year-to-date ADR levels in the region.”
Athens, Greece, reported the only double-digit occupancy increase, rising 18.2 percent to 79.6 percent. On the flipside, Moscow, Russia, reported the largest ADR decrease, falling 21.7 percent. The market also experienced the largest RevPAR decrease, down 29.1 percent.
New Hotels in Europe for 2015
In 2015, STR Global expects 235 hotels with 36,788 rooms to open throughout Europe, most of them considered upscale.
As of press time, The Club Med Val Thorens was set to open in December in the French Alps’ Three Valleys region, with direct access to the highest and largest ski domain in the world. The all-inclusive packages here will include accommodation, meals and beverages, ski passes with lift tickets, ski instruction for all experience levels, select activities and entertainment. The resort will have 384 rooms (starting from 248 square feet), including 12 deluxe rooms, five junior suites and six suites.
The 268-room Hilton Paris Opera is set to debut in January 2015 following the completion of a $50 million restoration from the former Concorde Paris Opera. The hotel is located in the city’s Right Bank district and close to the Champs-Elysées, Opéra Square and Rue de la Paix.
In Switzerland, meanwhile, the Kameha Grand Zurich, a business hotel with 245 rooms and suites, is set to open in Spring 2015.
Marriott International is set to bring its JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand to Italy in March. The 266-room JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa will open on a private island, Isola delle Rose, in the Venetian lagoon. The resort is expected to have have more than 16 acres of gardens and outdoor space and a sizeable spa. The hotel is the sixth JW Marriott hotel to open in Europe.
Looking farther ahead, Viceroy Hotel Group has announced that it will make its European debut in 2017 with the Viceroy Algarve at Quinta da Ombria. The luxury hotel will have 147 rooms and 99 residential units.