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European destinations seek quality rather than quantity

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Popular European cities are wooing more upmarket, niche and cultured travellers – and fewer mass-market tourists, according to the new report “Megatrends Shaping the Future of Travel” from global market research provider, Euromonitor International unveiled at World Travel Market London today (Tuesday 6 November).

Euromonitor International’s new study reveals the tourist boards of many European destinations are on a “quest for the right traveller”, amid media headlines about overtourism.

Euromonitor International’s research team also predicts a ripple effect across the continent when the UK leaves the European Union in March 2019, as the outbound British travel market will be affected by the outcome of trade talks.

Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel at Euromonitor International, commented: “While the media have jumped on the topic and popularised the term ‘over-tourism’, city tourism boards are coming to grips with a future where they will be looking to attract the ‘right’ traveller.

The focus should no longer be on volume, but rather on the incremental value that different types of tourists will bring.

“By targeting market niches, such as arts, culture, sports, adventure and wellness, the quality/price ratio tends to increase, as niche visitors are less price-sensitive, which in turn improves the overall quality of supply.”

The Euromonitor International research found that Europe’s tourism industry has proved remarkably resilient, despite economic and political turmoil, the migrant crisis, and terrorist attacks over recent years.

The industry continues to register “strong growth” in numbers – although the average expenditure per traveller has dropped.

As well as a shift away from the mass market, Euromonitor International identified a trend towards being “respectful of local cultures and residents”.

It cites the case study of Amsterdam which is trying to shed its party destination image and is piloting several initiatives to minimise the negative impacts of tourism and events on local residents.

Meanwhile, in the UK, there is still uncertainty about the form of Brexit, but Euromonitor International warns there is still a possibility that the UK may step out of the EU without a deal

Wouter Geerts, Travel Consultant at Euromonitor International, said UK’s outbound travel will be affected the most, as outbound expenditure outnumbers inbound receipts by 2:1.

“Some US$10 billion of outbound expenditure hangs in the balance depending on the form Brexit takes,” he said. “A ‘light Brexit’ or No Brexit would give outbound expenditure a boost while a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would restrain the rate of growth.”

World Travel Market London’s Paul Nelson said: “It bodes well for the long-term sustainability of the European tourism industry that it is diversifying its offer, in a bid to worry less about sheer numbers and to focus instead on more valuable sectors.

“We’ve had several sessions at World Travel Market London in recent years about the impact of overtourism on many destinations, and it seems that tourist boards and the industry are engaging with residents and politicians to find practical solutions.

“We’re hosting several events this year, looking at how the market is evolving and how destinations can learn from the experiences of others to find the best way to balance growth and sustainability.

“Much of the impetus is coming from our WTM Responsible Tourism programme, which is in the vanguard of the debate about green issues.

“We’re also hosting many events about the likely impact of Brexit, and how it will change the market for the UK and further afield.”

Download your free copy of Euromonitor International’s “Megatrends Shaping the Future of Travel” report.

Sessions at World Travel Market London discussing overtourism and related issues include:

  • Coping with Success in Major Cities (5 November)

Barcelona has led the way in addressing the challenges of overtourism, and other cities are beginning to address the problem of success. Speakers will be the bosses of tourist boards in Amsterdam, London, New York and Barcelona. AS1350

  • What can we learn from Barcelona? (6 November)

Barcelona will share the ways in which it has tackled the challenges of overtourism. Platinum Suite 4

  • How travel influencer marketing is evolving: the good, the bad and the brilliant (7 November)

With speakers from travel influencer network iambassador. WTM Global Stage AS1350

  • Food Tourism 2025: What You Need to Know Now (6 November)

Speakers will look at the positives of food tourism as well as issues such as overtourism, packaging waste, preserving culinary culture and authenticity. Platinum Suite 3

  • The World Responsible Tourism Awards (7 November)

This year there are five categories: wildlife; employment; local economic benefit; communicating responsible tourism; and coping with success, meeting the challenge of overtourism. Europe Inspiration Zone EU80.

eTN is a media partner for WTM.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.