24th World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa underlines fact that Europeans are “playing safe” by switching destinations. 

Europeans changed their travelling habits this year by opting for safe destinations, including stagnation in sun & beach holidays, while going on more city trips. European destinations had mixed results and welcomed fewer Asian visitors this year. However, after challenging times in 2016 prospects for 2017 look better. Those were some of the results of the 24th World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa, Italy (November 3-4).

Outbound travel by Europeans grew by 2.5% in the first eight months of 2016, according to World Travel Monitor figures. Outbound trips to destinations within 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 percent, according to World Travel Monitor figures.

The number of holiday trips by Europeans increased by a moderate 2% but there was a 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, according to World Travel Monitor figures. The number of sun & 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.

Dr Martin Buck, Messe Berlin’s Senior Vice President (pictured above), 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 percent in international visitor numbers largely due to the weaker pound. But heavyweights such as Italy, Greece and Germany generated only low growth of 1-3%, according to World Travel Monitor figures. The big losers this year after suffering terror attacks were Turkey, France and Belgium. Moreover, Asian trips to Europe declined by 1%, World Travel Monitor figures showed.

(Photo – top of page: Dr Martin Buck, Messe Berlin’s Senior Vice President)