Tourism to Europe: Long-haul travel stalled


Long-haul travel to Europe during the 2016 summer season has stalled, decreasing by 0.9% compared with the equivalent period last year, according to ForwardKeys, which analyzes over 14 million airline booking transactions a day. Growth in late June and early July, fueled by the UEFA Cup and Ramadan ending two weeks earlier than last year, was offset by a consequent decline in late July and early August.

Looking ahead, the prospects of a revival are not encouraging, with bookings for the coming month currently trailing where they were at the equivalent time last year by 1.4%.

The poor summer of 2016 ends a period of strong growth which has seen inbound travel growing by around 6.2% per annum for the past five years. Olivier Jager, ForwardKeys Co-founder and CEO said: “High-profile events such as UEFA’s European Cup and World Youth Day in Poland could not offset the damage caused by security concerns. A spate of bombings in Turkey and terrorist incidents in France have evidently deterred tourists from visiting major European countries; however, there has been a surge of interest in second tier destinations.”

Looking specifically at the June 1st to August 31st period, long-haul travel to the UK fell by 1.3% and its poor performance was exceeded by Italy, 2.6% down, Germany, 4.1% down, France, 9.6% down and Turkey 26.7% down. The bad news was not universal as second-tier destinations showed strong growth, with Portugal, up 5.2%: Denmark, up 5.5%; Spain, up 10.0%; Ireland, up 18.1%; Russia up 19.0% and Poland up 26.1%. Olivier commented: “Much of the growth was due to holidaymakers switching away from mainstream destinations and the Pope’s visit to Poland but we also saw a major influx of Chinese visitors to Russia.”

When one looks at the origin markets, both North and South America grew, by 2.5% and 4.6% respectively but travel from the rest of the world fell – by 2.8% from Africa, by 2.4% from Asia Pacific and by 1.0% from the Middle East.

The national markets showing the greatest decline were China, down 3.7%; South Africa, down 7.7%; the UAE, down 13.0%; Brazil down 14.7% and Japan down 18.0%. Brazil’s decline was due to its struggling domestic economy but concern about security was the principal factor deterring visitors from the Asian and Middle Eastern countries.