Europeans play safe

BERLIN, 21 November 2016: Low growth in European outbound trips and stagnating beach holiday volumes are just two of the key market factors identified in the latest World Travel Monitor.

Europeans changed their travelling habits this year by opting for safe destinations. There has also been a stagnation in sun and beach holidays, but an increase in city breaks the report states.

European destinations have reported mixed results and welcomed fewer Asian visitors this year.

inside no 6However, after challenging times in 2016 prospects for 2017 look better.

The findings were presented earlier this month at the 24th World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa, Italy.

Outbound travel by Europeans grew by 2.5% pin the first eight months of 2016, according to World Travel Monitor figures.

Outbound trips to destinations in Europe increased by 3% as travellers stayed closer to home, while trips to Asia grew only 2% and there was a 1% drop to the Americas.

Top performers in terms of outbound growth were Poland and Ireland (both +7%), UK, Netherlands, Spain and Denmark (all +6%) while the German market grew by 4%.

The number of holiday trips by Europeans increased by a moderate 2%, but there was a high 10% increase in the number of visits to family and friends (VFR) and other leisure trips abroad.

“This suggests that a significant number of people preferred the safety of private homes to commercial accommodation this year,” commented Paco Buerbaum, CEO of IPK International.

Changes occurred in the types of holidays taken by Europeans between January and August 2016. The number of sun and beach holidays stagnated, while touring holidays fell by 5%, yet city trips went up by 15%. The overall average spend per trip was stable at 910 euros.

Messe Berlin’s senior vice president, Martin Buck commented: “The flat growth for beach holidays reflects the concerns of many tourists about visiting some destinations that have experienced terror attacks. Some countries are growing well, and others are really struggling. However, the strong growth for city trips shows that Europeans are not being scared away from visiting cities.”

Meanwhile, European destinations certainly felt the wind of change during 2016 with fluctuating fortunes. In the Mediterranean, countries such as Spain and Portugal welcomed many more tourists from abroad while Britain enjoyed an increase of over 8% in international visitor numbers largely due to the weaker pound.

But heavyweights such as Italy, Greece and Germany generated only low growth of 1% to 3%, according to World Travel Monitor figures.

inside no 6.1The big losers this year after suffering terror attacks were Turkey, France and Belgium. Moreover, Asian trips to Europe declined by 1%.

These trends are also reflected in figures from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which showed that growth in European tourism slowed this year following various challenges that the continent’s tourism faced over the past year. International arrivals grew by 1.6% between January and September, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. This was significantly lower than the good growth of 4.6% seen in 2015 as a whole.

The outlook for European outbound travel in 2017 appears more optimistic. IPK expects this year’s trends will remain broadly the same next year.

“People will still go for holidays, they are just changing the type of holiday and the destinations. They are going to places that they perceive as safe,” said Buerbaum.

IPK currently predicts a 4% rise in European outbound trips in 2017, based on its European Travel Confidence Index which measures travel intentions for the next year. Confidence is highest in Ireland (+8%), Denmark and the UK (both +7% p), while the outlook is also above average in Finland, Belgium, Switzerland and France. In contrast, Germany looks set for about 2% growth along with Russia.

At the annual World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa, initiated at the invitation of consultancy IPK International and sponsored by ITB Berlin, around 50 tourism experts and academics present the latest figures and current trends in international tourism.

The annual results of the World Travel Monitor, which is the largest worldwide study on global travel behaviour, will be presented by IPK International at the ITB Future Day at the ITB Berlin Convention.

ITB Berlin 2017 will take place from Wednesday to Sunday, 8 to 12 March. From Wednesday to Friday ITB Berlin is open to trade visitors only. Parallel with the show the ITB Berlin Convention, the largest event of its kind, will be held from Wednesday, 8 to Saturday, 11 March 2017. More details are available at