Another year of low but positive growth for European tourism in 2013

Published on : Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Despite the gloomy economic conditions in many parts of the continent, Europeans continued to travel in 2012 and ITB World Travel Trends report expects another year of low but positive growth in 2013. Inbound tourism in Europe generally shook off the diverse external challenges with low growth last year, although some destinations suffered from a downturn, and a similar trend is expected for 2013, according to experts at the Pisa forum last year.

The overall number of international trips by Europeans increased 2% between January and August, the European Travel Monitor showed. Spending also rose by 2% while total overnight stays remained stable.

There were some important trends and shifts within these overall figures, however. Significantly, the largest market segment – holidays – did not grow, and beach holidays even declined 1%. In contrast, there was a 14% rise in city trips and business travel grew by 8%. There was a 10% rise in short trips of 1-3 nights and a 2% drop in longer trips, resulting in a 3% fall in the average length of trip.

Short-haul travel within Europe and to North Africa grew by a moderate 2%. In general, destinations in northern, central and eastern Europe grew above-average and western European destinations showed stable demand but there was a drop in demand for some southern European destinations while North Africa recovered strongly with a 15% increase in European visitor numbers. Greece, for example, suffered a 12% drop in incoming tourism from Europe, especially from Germany and the UK, where travel to Greece dropped about 20-30%. This was partly compensated by more Russian tourists. The picture was better for Italy (+2%) with more visitors from eastern Europe (e.g. Russia and Poland) compensating for fewer German and British visitors (-3% and -1% respectively). The picture was similar for Spain (+3%) which saw strong increases from Russia and Scandinavia, more British tourists (+5%) but stagnating German visitor numbers. Portugal (+3%) had more Russian, Scandinavian and German visitors last year.

Long-haul destinations were popular for Europeans in 2012 with a healthy 4% increase in trips to overseas destinations, the European Travel Monitor showed. Europeans travelled more to the Americas (+2%) and above all to Asia Pacific, with the number of trips to the region rising by 8%.

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