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November 28, 2012
In Europe, the effects of the economic situation on the continent’s tourism industry are wide-ranging, but the overall trend remains positive. This is one of the findings of the ITB World Travel Trends Report.
This year, the number of stays abroad and spending at destinations rose by around 2 percent. At the same time European travel patterns changed -- thus beach holidays fell by 1 percent, while city tours grew by around 14 percent. Short breaks of one to three overnights rose by 10 percent and business stays abroad increased by 8 percent. Portugal, Spain and Italy benefited from a rise in trips from Eastern Europe. Italy reported 2 percent growth in inbound tourism and an increase in visitors from Russia and Poland. Their numbers offset the slight decline in arrivals from Germany and the U.K. Similarly, Spain and Portugal each reported a 3 percent rise in inbound tourism.
The report also discovered that Europeans increasingly favor faraway destinations -- long-haul travel rose by around 4 percent. The main beneficiaries of this trend were the Americas and the Asia Pacific region, where inbound tourism rose by 2 and 8 percent, respectively. Short-haul trips to destinations within Europe and to the Mediterranean rose by 2 percent. Economic uncertainty in a number of European countries is also impacting on travel patterns. Thus, Italy reported a 5 percent drop and Spain a 2 percent decline in outbound trips. By contrast, the figures for Switzerland and Norway were good. These countries benefited from high exchange rates and reported 10 and 6 percent increases in outbound travel, respectively.
Conversely, despite a flourishing economy, Germany’s figures stagnated, and U.K. outbound travel also grew by only 1 percent. In spite of its political and economic difficulties, Europe remains a sought-after destination. Spain, Germany and many Central and Eastern European countries reported 5 percent-plus increases in international visitors from Europe and overseas. The weak euro and strong dollar helped to make Europe a popular travel destination with Americans. Japan also began to attract tourists again, having gradually recovered from the disasters of 2011. China, India and Brazil, where the middle classes are expanding, are among new markets gaining in importance. Thus, a 1 to 3 percent increase in international arrivals at European destinations is forecast for 2013.
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