Last updated: 04:07 PM ET, Thu July 02 2015

ETC Enjoying Perfect Sunny Days in 2015

Destination & Tourism | James Ruggia | May 11, 2015

ETC Enjoying Perfect Sunny Days in 2015

PHOTO: Vienna is leading Austrian tourism in a very strong era. (Photo by Christian Stemper courtesy of Vienna Tourism)

Since we have always been quick when things go awry to refer to the weariest metaphor for bad business available, the “Perfect Storm,” it’s only appropriate that we describe Europe’s current tourism situation as a perfectly sunny day. The confluence of a strong Dollar, low fuel prices, a restored American economy and consumer confidence has the European Travel Commission (ETC) positively beaming despite the continuing collapse of the Russian and Brazilian markets. Europe remains the world's top destination with 588 million international tourist arrivals and more than 50 percent of the market share of worldwide tourism.

The ETC’s latest report, “European Tourism 2015 – Trends & Prospects,” shows most European destinations recording growth in the first months of 2015. Inside the Eurozone, the destinations are seeing a weak Euro and low oil prices drive arrivals from the U.S., Europe’s largest overseas source market, even as some European markets begin to recover, driving intra-regional traffic. Russian outbound travel continues to fall with an average drop of around 30 percent in early 2015 compared to the levels in early 2014.

Forward momentum expected for tourism in Europe

The top performers in terms of attracting arrivals in 2015’s early going include Iceland at +31.4 percent; Croatia +24.6 percent; Montenegro +23.2 percent; Romania +13.1 percent; Hungary +12.1 percent; Slovenia +11.7 percent; Austria +11.4 percent and Serbia +11 percent.

The U.S. was the market with the largest number of additional overnights for Austria. Major destinations such as Vienna and Salzburg reported especially strong numbers, with increases in overnights from the U.S. of 14 percent (to a total of 748,000) and 10 percent respectively. “Our two most prominent city destinations are currently the strongest engines on the market” reports Michael Gigl, Region Manager USA/Australia for the Austrian Tourist Office in New York, “we are excited to carry such strong momentum into 2015, which could be a banner year given the strengthening economy and strong Dollar exchange. “  

The U.S. market’s ongoing economic recovery and strong currency have ETC predictions coming in almost sounding like singing telegrams. “As the U.S. dollar heads towards parity with the euro and results in macro-economic indicators show signs of recovery, outbound trips from the U.S. to Europe are expected to increase by around +6 percent in 2015,” said the ETC. On the other hand, the Russians are headed in the opposite direction. The only two destinations that saw growth from Russia so far in 2015 are Montenegro and Romania. Likewise, tax cuts and squeezed spending paint a much bleaker picture for Brazil than a year ago.

Other long haul markets are performing with strength. Despite a cooling off of the Chinese economy, the People’s Republic’s people continue to travel. Most importantly, Europe has the world’s most steady travel markets within its own borders. “Half of all international arrivals to Europe are generated by only a few markets – mainly intra-regional – with modest growth rates,” said the ETC.

In January, Spain unveiled its 2014 numbers, which showed that Spain set a record with 65 million international tourist arrivals; the 7 percent growth is the highest in the last 14 years.

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