PHOTO: Europe's tourism arrivals are on the rise. (Photo courtesy Thinkstock)
According to a recent report from the European Travel Commission, travel to the continent is on the rise.
The European Tourism - Trends & Prospects report notes that, over the first half of the year, arrivals in Europe grew 3 percent. The majority of destinations experienced outstanding performance over the summer months with Iceland recording the fastest growth, followed by Slovakia and Cyprus.
Apart from growth, there were also positive signs from key markets. Fears that Britons would not travel due to a weaker Sterling, were mostly allayed by double-digit growth from UK travelers in 2016.
A strong U.S. dollar has meant that more Americans are traveling abroad and they are heading to Europe. According to the report, year-to-date data points at a 6 percent increase in U.S. visitors compared to the same period last year.
There are still declines in visitors from Russia, but even there, the forecast is improving. Although year-to-date data exhibits a 4.5% decline in Russian arrivals to Europe, resulting from the country's staggering economy, in the longer run an estimated 8% annual average growth is forecasted by 2020, says the report.
China also a growing market despite security fears of Chinese travelers in the region says the report.
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Going forward, tourism officials should encourage investment and promotion says the commission.
"To foster Europe's competitiveness and achieve a better promotion of the region as a tourism destination, European authorities should capitalize on attracting investment from public and private stakeholders to increase tourists flows to Europe, especially from third markets," said Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission.