Europeans changed their travelling habits in 2016 by opting for safe destinations. This included stagnation of sun & beach holidays, while travellers went on more city trips.

Overall, 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%, according to World Travel Monitor figures.

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, 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, commented: “The 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.”

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

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