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European Outbound Travel Grows by Five Percent

European outbound travel grew by five percent during the first eight months of the year, and the outlook for 2019 is also positive. Further growth can be expected according to the World Travel Monitor conducted by IPK International and commissioned by ITB Berlin.

On a global level, 2017 was an exceptionally good year, a development to which Europe contributed significantly. However, the first eight months of this year were unable to surpass those figures. Although European outbound trips increased by five percent, that figure fell short of the seven percent in 2017. Rising oil prices and air fares have dampened European growth as well. However, the trend remains clearly positive, according to Rolf Freitag, CEO, IPK International.

Poland was the biggest source market for international travel, reporting a 10 percent growth year-on-year. Also Swedes and Russians undertook more trips this year, while the Italian, German and Austrian markets registered solid growth too.

According to the IPK World Travel Monitor, which covers more than 90 percent of global outbound travel, figures for Switzerland, Denmark and the United Kingdom were below average by comparison. Again, driving growth this year were trips within Europe, which increased by six percent. A look at long-haul travel shows that trips to Asia grew by three percent. At one percent, trips to the Americas recovered slightly from 2017 stagnating figures. Mexico, for instance, registered four per cent more visitors from Europe over the first eight months, while the US reported an increase of one percent.

Among European destinations Turkey is the clear winner, reporting almost 30 percent more visitors. The developments were also very positive in Greece, with a 19 percent increase over the first eight months. During the same period the UK registered a drop in visitors of approximately three percent. After years of strong growth, the figures for Spain stagnated. Despite a politically unstable period, Turkey has clearly managed to win back faith among travellers, according to Martin Buck, senior vice president, travel and logistics, 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 a growth of five percent. Ever-popular sun and beach holidays were among this years growth drivers during the first eight months. With a plus of eight per cent, their growth was clearly above average. This year city breaks showed positive growth, albeit less than in previous years.

After frequently reporting double-digit growth in the past they achieved average figures this year (six percent). So far this year, holiday trips overall increased by six percent. In contrast, business travel stagnated during the current year. Traditional business trips dropped by five percent, while MICE travel increased by three percent. During the first eight months of this year higher expenses and longer stays of European travellers have led to an eight percent rise in total turnover.

Looking ahead to 2019, IPK International forecasts a good year for the European outbound travel market and anticipates five percent growth. In particular, Russian traveller numbers are expected to rise sharply by seven percent. 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 percent in 2019.