Rise in North American Outbound Travel

With a boom in North American travel to Europe, outbound travel is growing strongly.

The Americas can celebrate a good year for international travel and tourism. North Americans are travelling strongly to destinations in Europe and Latin America this year, while source markets such as Brazil are on the path to recovery. The outlook for both North America and Latin America next year is for a continuation of these positive trends. These were some of the results of the 25th World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa, Italy (November 9-10). At this exclusive industry meeting, initiated at the invitation of consultancy IPK International and supported by ITB Berlin, around 50 tourism experts and academics from around the world present the latest figures and current trends in international tourism.

Strong growth for North American outbound travel

North Americans are travelling strongly this year, with a 7.5% increase in outbound trips between January and August, according to World Travel Monitor figures. This is even higher than the expected 6% rise for this year, as predicted by last year’s World Travel Monitor®. Travel from North America to Europe is booming with a very strong 15% increase over the first eight months of this year. There is also good growth of 6% in trips to destinations in the Americas and moderate growth of 4% for Asia.

Travellers from North America are diversifying their international trips this year. The number of holidays and visits to friends and relatives are both 9% higher. Among different kinds of holidays, city trips are proving particularly popular with a 15% increase between January and August. This is a clear comeback for city breaks after a slight decline last year.  While touring holidays are losing market shares in other regions of the world like Asia and Europe, North Americans went on more tour holidays in the first eight months of this year, with an increase of 10%. But sun & beach holidays are also in demand, as a 9% increase shows. Overall spending per trip is 3% higher this year, with an average length of stay of 8 nights.

“This year’s strong growth for North American outbound travel is due to different reasons, such as good economic conditions and a strong US dollar,” explained IPK International consultant Juan Alberto García. Looking ahead, another good year for North American outbound travel is expected in 2018. IPK’s Travel Confidence Index forecasts further growth of 4% next year.

Good development for Latin American outbound travel

Latin American outbound travellers went on more international trips in the first eight months of 2017. The number of outbound trips grew by 5% and hence even exceeded the initial forecast of 3% that was made at the beginning of this year, according to World Travel Monitor figures. There was a 6% rise in holidays, which comprise over 70% of all international trips by travellers from the region, but a 7% decline in visits to friends and relatives. Reasons for this development are among others the tensions with the USA, particularly when looking at the Mexican outbound travel market, which usually includes a higher share of trips for visiting friends and relatives.

Latin American travellers went on different kinds of international holidays this year. The highest growth rate within the holiday segment can be seen for holidays in the countryside, nevertheless the segment only accounts for less than 5% of the total holiday market. In comparison, city trips and tour holidays, which each make up around 25% of the total holiday market, could also register high growth rates (city trips +9%, touring +8%). In contrast, the number of international sun & beach holidays declined by 2%.

This good development from Latin America looks likely to be consolidated next year. IPK’s Travel Confidence Index forecasts slightly higher growth of 6% in Latin American outbound travel in 2018.

More international visitors for most destinations in the Americas

The World Travel Monitor figures are supported by the latest Americas destination figures from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). These show an overall 3% rise in international arrivals to the region between January and August 2017.

Most destinations continued to enjoy positive results, led by South America (+7%) and followed by Central America and the Caribbean (both +4%). North America welcomed 2% more international visitors, with robust results in Mexico and Canada contrasting with a decrease in the United States, the region’s largest destination.

“Overall, it has been a good year for international travel in the Americas,” commented Dr Martin Buck, Messe Berlin’s Senior Vice President Travel & Logistics. “North Americans are visiting Europe more than ever and in general are going on more tour holidays. This positive development in regards to tour holidays is a contrast to what we see from other parts of the world.”