Tourism across Europe at record levels

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According to a report from ITB, travel-hungry Europeans are defying local crises and political unrest, having undertaken record numbers of trips this year.

Compared with last year, the number of foreign trips rose by 3%, reaching a new record.

According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report, conducted by IPK International and commissioned by the world’s leading travel trade show, destinations such as Greece, Spain and the UK profited from this boom. All signs point to growth in 2015 as well.

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Despite Europe’s weak economic growth, the crisis in Ukraine, conflicts in the Middle East and the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, Europeans travelled longer distances and more often.

Compared to last year there was a 3% rise in foreign trips, which on average were shorter.

By contrast, spending per overnight grew by four per cent. Among Europeans the internet became an increasingly popular tool for making reservations.

Bookings via this medium rose by seven per cent, while travel agency figures stagnated.

During the first eight months of 2014 holiday trips grew by five per cent, with city breaks registering a major increase (10 per cent). By contrast, holidays in the snow and the countryside registered declines. Business travel increased by a mere one per cent.

However, a new trend has emerged: at plus four pent, MICE travel has become increasingly popular, whereas conventional business trips fell by three per cent due to budget constraints.

This year, source markets reporting a substantial increase in foreign trips included Switzerland (+7%), Denmark and Poland (6% each), as well as Sweden, Spain and the UK, (all +5%). Spain aside, none of the most successful source markets belonged to the Eurozone.

Germany, Europe’s largest source market, registered two per cent growth. At +3 and +2 % respectively, the Italian and French markets recovered despite their countries’ weak economies.

This year the Russian market declined by 1%, which was due also to the numerous challenges it faced.

This year the number of trips undertaken in Europe, by far the largest market in terms of volume, grew by 3%. In 2014 long-distance travel was even more popular with Europeans.

Thus, during the first eight months of this year the number of trips to Asia increased by 7%, those to North America and the Caribbean by 6%, and trips by Europeans to South America and the Pacific grew by 5%.

The number of trips to Africa also increased slightly. However, further developments must be awaited due to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Europeans are confident as regards their travel plans for 2015. Overall, foreign trips undertaken by Europeans are expected to rise by 3%, which could herald another year of solid growth.

At +7%, the UK would appear to be among the fastest-growing source markets, along with those of Switzerland, Poland and Russia at an estimated 4% each. Foreign trips undertaken by the German market are forecast to rise by 2%.

Once again, Europe was a very popular travel destination and reported double-digit growth in visitors from China, India and the United Arab Emirates. This year, Europe was also very popular with travellers from the USA and Canada.

Overall, during the first eight months of this year the number of international tourist arrivals in Europe rose to 413 million, an increase of 4.2%.

Southern and Northern Europe both registered the highest growth rates, at plus seven per cent respectively. Countries ahead in the rankings included Greece, Spain, Turkey, Germany and the UK.

All the findings are based on information from papers held at the World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa, which is sponsored by ITB Berlin.

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