Newsletters — August 13, 2016

Winners and losers in European tourism in 2016

Article made by ETOA (European Tour Operator Association, 4.8.2016)Latest figures released by UNWTO show strong growth in global tourism demand, with arrivals up 5% in the period January to April. This increase was the equivalent of about 18 million additional overnight arrivals on the same period in 2015. Although under-performing against other main regions, Europe’s increase of 4.4% points to a resilient tourism sector performing strongly in the face of demanding market conditions resulting from security and terrorism concerns.This positive picture is reinforced in the European Travel Commission’s Quarterly Report. In the first four months of the year, data from 29 reporting destinations across Europe showed marked increases in arrivals with 1 in 2 recording double-digit growth compared to the same period last year. Iceland’s (+35%) stellar growth continues, its tourism economy boosted by transatlantic routes encouraging visitors to stopover in the country. Slovakia (+24%) and Cyprus (+21%) also saw notable increases, the latter benefiting from the displacement impact of Russian visitors shifting their destination choice from Turkey to Cyprus.Serbia and Romania also continued to make strong gains, further building on the upwards trend these markets have been enjoying in recent years. Both countries are relatively low cost destinations, and this inevitably gives them a competitive advantage in gaining an increasing share of European demand.Ireland’s 16% growth in the period is further testimony to its strong marketing and its popularity across a broad range of source markets.  Although Ireland has a high dependence on the UK market, the fastest growing sources in the period were the US and Germany.Among the leading European visitor economies, Spain was the standout performance, with 13% more arrivals than for the same period in 2015. Germany also trended strongly upwards, with a 6% rise.The two most notable fallers in the period were Turkey and Switzerland. Arrivals to Turkey continue to slump (-16%), with the downturn in Russian visitors having a particularly profound impact. With the recent coup attempt in the country adding further to the general instability, it is difficult to see any reversal of this downwards trend for the foreseeable future. In Switzerland, the continued strength of the Swiss franc has hampered its performance in 2016 to date; both arrivals and nights have fallen by 0.8% and 3.2% respectively in the first four months of the year.The ETC Bulletin also assesses the fortunes of some of Europe’s main long haul origin markets, and these present a generally positive picture. Among the countries featured, the overwhelming majority reported increased volumes of arrivals from US, Chinese, Indian and Canadian visitors. The one exception was the Japanese market, traditionally a very risk averse segment, where there was an even spread of those reporting a growth in visitors and those experiencing fewer.Looking ahead, any appraisal of Europe’s fortunes for the remainder of the year is inevitably obscured by uncertainty resulting from security concerns and, more recently, the impact of Brexit on travel demand from UK residents. Nevertheless, full year forecasts produced by Tourism Economics (a branch of Oxfords Economics) remain bullish with 3% growth, and while lagging other global regions, suggest there is sufficient demand momentum to overcome any declining traveller sentiment for Europe in 2016.—–In Finland arrivals % have been as follows:January +8,7%February +16,7 March +1,0%April +2,2%