Mixed Fortunes for EU Tourism Destinations in 2016

IPK International underlines key trends in inbound and outbound travel in renowned World Travel Trends report.

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% 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 last year after suffering terror attacks were Turkey, France and Belgium. Moreover, Asian trips to Europe declined by 1%, World Travel Monitor figures showed. These trends were also reflected in figures from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) which show that growth in European tourism slowed this year following the various challenges that the continent’s tourism has faced over the past year.

International arrivals grew by 1.6% between January and September 2016, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. This was significantly lower than the good growth of 4.6% seen in 2015 as a whole. There was a diverse picture over the first nine months of 2016 in terms of sub-regions and individual destinations. Northern Europe (+6.4%) and Central and Eastern Europe (+5.3%) both performed well, with double-digit increases in countries such as Hungary and Ireland, according to UNWTO figures. In contrast, results were weaker in Western Europe (-1.3%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+0.4%). Strong increases for major destinations such as Spain and Portugal were offset by weak results in France, Belgium and Turkey.


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. Dr. Martin Buck, Senior Vice President Travel & Logistics, 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.”

IPK predicted a 4% rise in European outbound trips in 2017, based on its European Travel Confidence Index which measures travel intentions for the next year