European outbound travel slows down, Turkey makes a big comeback as a destination

European outbound trips increased by 5% in first three quarters of 2018, but fell short of previous year’s growth. Turkey has made a big comeback as a preferred destination for European travelers while Spain shows signs of stagnation.

Spain has been unable to maintain its strong growth of international visitors of recent years, while Turkey is attracting more holiday makers again, according to the World Travel Monitor survey conducted by IPK International and commissioned by ITB Berlin. Greece also reports rising visitor numbers. 

Slowdown in European growth

Although European outbound trips increased by 5% in the first eight months of 2018, it fell short of the 7% last year. ”Rising oil prices and air fares have dampened European growth as well. However, the trend remains clearly positive”, explained Rolf Freitag, CEO of IPK International.

Poland’s outbound trips reported a 10% growth year-on-year. Swedes and Russians undertook more trips this year, while the Italian, German and Austrian markets registered solid growth too. Growth figures for Switzerland, Denmark and the United Kingdom were below average according to the World Travel Monitor which covers more than 90% of global outbound travel.




Turkey recovers, Spain stagnates

Among European destinations Turkey is the clear winner with almost 30% more visitors. Greece also has shown a robust %19 growth. The figures for Spain signaled a stagnation though, after years of strong improvement. ”Despite a politically unstable period, Turkey has clearly managed to win back faith among travelers, said Dr. Martin Buck, senior vice president, Travel & Logistics at Messe Berlin. ”Spain experienced a slight damper this year after the steep upward trend of recent years. However, as one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations Spain continues to attract high visitor numbers.

Among Europeans, tour holidays are seeing a comeback this year with 5% growth where ever-popular sun & beach holidays were among this year’s growth drivers with over 8% jump. So far this year, holiday trips overall increased by 6% while traditional business trips dropped by 5%.  MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) travels, on the other hand, increased by 3% which is less than overall European outbound travel growth.

Positive expectations for 2019

Looking ahead to 2019, IPK International forecasts a good year for the European outbound travel market and anticipates five per cent growth. In particular, Russian traveler numbers are expected to rise sharply by seven per cent. The signs are also positive for source markets like Denmark, France, Switzerland, Spain and Belgium. Europe’s largest outbound travel market, Germany, is forecasted to grow by four per cent in 2019.

The World Travel Monitor is based on the results of representative interviews with more than 500K people in over 60 global travel markets. It has been published for more than 20 years and is recognised as the most wide-scale continuous survey of global travel trends.

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