The World Tourism Barometer by the UNWTO indicates arrivals in Europe reached 609 million, or 29 million more than in 2014. Central and Eastern Europe (+6%) rebounded from last year’s decrease in arrivals. Northern Europe (+6%), Southern Mediterranean Europe (+5%) and Western Europe (+4%) also recorded sound results, especially considering the many mature destinations they comprise.
Europe saw positive growth in international tourist arrivals over the first eight months of 2015, driven mostly by intra-regional travel from major source markets such as the UK and Germany, according to European Travel Commission (ETC) figures. In terms of long-haul inbound travel, ETC expected a strong 30% rise in Chinese arrivals and a good 11% increase from the USA but an 18% fall from Russia for 2015 as a whole.
GOOD OUTLOOK FOR 2016
Looking ahead, Europe can generally expect an increase in international visitors from major long-haul source markets, according to a recent survey by the ETC. Consumers in China, the USA and Japan are all more positively inclined towards travel to Europe, while travel sentiment in Brazil is slightly lower than at the beginning of the year. Moreover, the intention to travel to Europe among Russian citizens has fallen significantly for the remainder of the year (September-December 2015).
Stefanie Gallob, ETC’s head of research, told the forum that in the USA the strong dollar is motivating middle- and higherincome travellers to consider Europe as a travel destination. In China, positive travel sentiment is mostly driven by younger and mid-aged people. In contrast, Russian travel intentions for Europe have fallen sharply due to a mix of factors, supporting notions of a predicted fall of 18% in Russian arrivals to Europe last year.
Looking ahead to next year, IPK currently predicts a 2.8% rise in European outbound travel, based on its European Travel Confidence Index, which measures travel intentions for the next year. According to the index, 70% of Europeans are looking ahead positively and want to travel at least as much in 2016 as this year. Confidence is highest in the UK and Spain (both +6%), Poland (+4%) and Germany (+3%), indicating good growth ahead for those source markets next year. In contrast, French consumers are only slightly more optimistic about their travel intentions for 2016, while confidence is lower in Russia and Italy (both -2%).