European tourism figures have improved by two percent highlighting the continued attractiveness of its destinations. The continent welcomed 615 million international tourists in 2016, a two percent increase on 2015, despite various challenges.
The outlook for 2017 is upbeat regardless of safety concerns, uncertain political situation and potential policy changes.
As per the European Travel Commission’s latest report ‘European Tourism- Trends & Prospects’, the early months of 2017 saw destinations with double-digit growth in arrivals. Iceland (+54%) enjoyed the fastest growth supported by increased air capacity on transatlantic routes while Cyprus (+26%), Portugal (+25%) and Malta (+23%) proved their success in battling seasonality. Other top performers were Bulgaria (+19%), Finland (+18%), and Estonia (+13%). While Switzerland (+3%) reversed its past trend by taking advantage of its key position as a winter destination.
Most destinations saw substantial growth from Europe’s largest source markets-Germany and France- fuelled by the recovery of the Eurozone.
Several destinations reported a rebound in arrivals from Russia- Iceland (+157%) Cyprus (+122%) and Turkey (+88%). Overall, outbound travel from this market is projected to improve in 2017.
Following a boost in U.S. tourist arrivals in 2016 (+6%), prospects for further growth looks high in 2017. Encouraging economic conditions and a strong U.S. dollar against European currencies are expected to entice more American travellers across the Atlantic.