Long haul travel sentiment highlights continuing appeal of Europe says ETOA
European Tour Operator Association and European Cities Marketing have been conducting a survey in five big long-haul markets what are their expectations of sales in near future.
Despite the pressures in Europe and their potential impact on visitor demand, travel sentiment in Europe’s key long-haul travel markets appears to be reasonably buoyant over the next four months. This is the main outcome of latest results from the Long-Haul Travel Sentiment Survey, a joint initiative of the European Travel Commission (ETC), the European Tourism Association (ETOA), and Eurail Group. The survey looks at intentions to travel in Europe’s most important long-haul source markets, providing the tourism sector with early indications of travel demand developments from non-European markets.
The survey is conducted in the five key markets of USA, China, Japan, Brazil and the Russian Federation, and in site of volatile economic conditions and political tensions in some survey countries, the results indicate sustained potential demand from key long-haul markets for the remainder of the year. In all countries, over four in five respondents who plan to travel long-haul over the remainder of the year say they intend to visit a destination in Europe.
China recorded the most positive results; while 55% of its traveller sample expects to take a long-haul trip, 90% say these intend to travel to Europe. France totally dominates the wish list of countries the Chinese expect to visit, even though it has dropped a few percentage points since last year. Germany is also hugely popular, with Italy the UK and Switzerland also featuring very strongly, as well as a perceptible increase in some Scandinavian destinations.
Most popular destinations for each market (based on % share of long haul sample with intentions to visit)
The trajectory of the US market has been quite changeable in recent waves of the survey. Sentiment took a dip in the second half of 2015, but has now strongly recovered. Although the USA doesn’t have the same proportions of people wanting to travel long-haul as in the Chinese market, the enthusiasm for Europe among those that do intend to travel afar is just as pronounced. Some of the initial fallout seen last year may have been a reaction to security concerns, but more latterly, the improving domestic economy and strong Dollar may well have countered this negative. For Americans, intentions are heavily concentrated among the big draw destinations of France, Germany and Italy, with Spain and the UK also featuring strongly.
Traveller confidence in the Russian market took a substantial knock in mid-2015 as the economic crisis worsened and as the value of the Rouble tumbled. This was most noticeable in the intentions to travel long-haul, which fell from 69% to 49% across two waves of the survey. That figure is now recovering, although there is still a deficit against the high point in April 2015. But among those planning to travel long-haul, their enthusiasm for Europe hasn’t waned. Their highest intentions cluster evenly around a handful of destination including Spain, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Czech Republic and France. Among this group, it is quite noticeable that intentions for visiting Spain have increased rapidly, at the expense of France, which has experienced lower levels of interest from Russians.
Brazil is in the grip of a severe recession, and intentions to travel outside the country have been trending downwards across the course of 2016, although certainly not to the extent that was seen in Russia. Again, Europe maintains its high popularity in this market, with Italy, Portugal and France totally dominating intentions.
The Japanese market is distinctive because of the very low numbers of the traveller sample that intend to travel outside the country. At only 23%, it is half the number seen for China, USA and Brazil. Japan also consistently registers the least enthusiasm for travelling to Europe, typically 5%-10% adrift of all the other markets featured in the survey. Where there are intentions to travel to Europe, these are strongly concentrated towards France, Germany and Italy.
Sources: ETOA and ECM
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