Tourism in 2013: The Fastest Growing European Countries


Aug 04, 2013 3:00 am

Skift Take

Trendline: smaller destinations in Europe will continue to grow, especially economies that have gone through the financial crisis and come out better on the other end. Hence Iceland and Latvia, among others.

— Rafat Ali

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Trey Ratcliff  / Flickr

Iceland, the fastest growing European destination this year. Trey Ratcliff / Flickr

Europe’s economic malaise has been hurting tourism in some of the traditionally big countries of the continent for the last couple of years, but growth in newer destinations is an encouraging sign, even if it can’t make up for overall decline. According to the latest quarterly report from European Travel Commission, out of 22 destinations reporting foreign visitors’ figures through March-June of 2013, the vast majority posted positive growth.

The fastest growing destinations in Europe are Iceland and Slovakia, at a blistering 30 percent and 20 percent respectively. Montenegro, Latvia and Croatia follow with a growth around 9 percent, Hungary and Poland with a growth of 7 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum, Cyprus dropped 12 percent amidst the negative publicity received at the beginning of the year. Among the largest destinations, Germany and Spain post a healthy 4 percent on top of previous year’s positive results. The UK eventually returns to positive growth (+1 percent), while Italy marks a depressed 2 percent decline.

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Meanwhile, growth in number of nights stayed (overnights) in each destination remains subdued compared to that of arrivals, as travelers remain cost conscious. Notable exceptions are Latvia (+9 percent in arrivals and +14 percent in overnights), Croatia (+9 percent and +11 percent respectively), Malta (+7 percent and +10 percent respectively)  and Czech Republic (+3 percent and +4 percent). The reason for this growth is increasing visits from long-stay markets (like China), the establishment of new air connections with medium and long haul markets and reduced fiscal pressure on tourism services, according to ETC.

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