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Europe is top travel destination despite slowing growth

09 February 2017 08:13

Iceland welcomed 40% more visitors in 2016

Iceland welcomed 40% more visitors in 2016

Europe remains the world's number one region as a travel destination - but tourism growth is slowing down, a travel industry report has said.

Europe welcomed 620 million international tourist arrivals in 2016, indicating tourism growth of 2%, according to data from the United Nations' World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

This compares with 5% growth for the previous year.

The impact of terror threats

In the European Travel Commission's (ETC) latest report, European Tourism - Trends and Prospects , the majority of destinations across the continent reported a "healthy" increase in the number of visitors over the past 12 months.

However, the impact of several European terrorism attacks triggering concerns about safety appear to be impacting holidaymakers' decisions to travel overseas.

In the wake of several terror attacks since 2015, visitors to Turkey have dropped by nearly a third (31%) in the last year, while Belgium tourism growth has dropped by 14%,

The ETC says market confidence needs to be rebuilt as destinations repair the damage from tragic security incidents.

Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of ETC, said: "European destinations acknowledge the need to remain competitive in a sector that is swiftly adapting to the diverse needs of travellers from both established and emerging markets.

"Only through increased commitment and cooperation from the European tourism authorities will Europe remain a competitive destination and will succeed in fostering inbound travel."

Britons undeterred by weak pound

The political uncertainty in the UK and the devaluation of the sterling has failed to derail travel demand among British tourists.

Almost 50% of destinations in Europe are experiencing double-digit growth from Britain, the ETC reports.

New airline routes to Iceland have helped the country achieve top spot as the destination experiencing highest growth, with tourism increasing by 40% for 2016.

Cyprus is next in line with 20%, followed by Slovakia at 19% and 16% growth in Bulgaria.

Anyone planning a European holiday can take out travel insurance to cover any eventuality.