European destinations grew by a robust 5% in 2013
European destinations grew by a robust 5% in 2013, which is well above the most optimistic projections. According to the latest ETC report ‘European Tourism in 2013 ? Trends & Prospects’, confidence is growing in the sector, as some of the factors underlying growth will persist into the next year. The ETC expects international tourism to grow between 3% and 4% in 2014. With a joint effort, the public and private sector can consolidate this growth path and secure Europe a long-term position as the world’s number 1 destination.
European tourism reached new peak levels in 2013 and experienced the fourth consecutive year of growth. Growth spread across virtually all European destinations and accelerated as the year progressed, mainly due to strong summer travel demand from large outbound markets, such as Spain and the UK. Confidence is growing in the European tourism sector, as reflected in key industry indicators. “European tourism has a bright future ahead” said Eduardo Santander, ETC Executive Director during the Destination Europe 2020 conference, held in Brussels on the 12th of February. Nonetheless, “competition is tough”, echoed Pedro Ort?n, Director for Tourism of the European Commission, “but European destinations have by far all the means to stand out as the most attractive, diverse and unique destinations worldwide”.
In 2013, Europe received 29 million international visitors more than in the previous year, reaching 563 million arrivals, according to UNWTO figures. In relative terms, this means a robust growth of 5%. Faster-than-average growth is reported by Europe’s five largest destinations. France consolidates its position growing by a solid 8%. An unprecedented 60 million international tourists visited Spain (+6%), while in Italy (+3%) stagnation seems to be over, at least in terms of inbound travel. Tourism to Turkey (+10%) grew fast despite protests during the central months of the year, while Germany (+4%) remains on a steady growth path and hits the 30 million mark in foreign visitors. Stunning two-digit growth is reported by a remarkably high number of smaller destinations. Iceland is the best-in-class performer, with a 21% increase in foreign visits, followed by Latvia (+14%), Serbia (+13%), Greece (+12%), Slovakia and Malta (both +10%).
Key industry indicators point to an increasing confidence in the European tourism sector. European hotel occupancy growth outpaced all other world regions throughout 2013, and raising pricing power is indicative of growing confidence in the tourism sector. Air seat capacity increased throughout the year as a further indication of industry expectations of ongoing growth in demand.
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