The symbolic bucket-list attractions, scenic vistas and famed food of Western Europe often monopolize travelers’ itineraries but it’s tourism in Eastern and Southern Europe that’s projected to see the most growth during the next decade.
The World Travel & Tourism Council’s new report, prepared by Oxford Economics, examines the outlook of European tourism growth through 2025 and estimates Eastern Europe’s travel and tourism GDP will grow the fastest: 3.3% per year for the next decade. This is basically on par with the overall 3.2% GDP projected in that region.
If Russia wasn’t included as part of Eastern Europe, the organization believes this region would see even faster tourism growth: 4% per year ahead of the 3.5% overall GDP growth for Eastern Europe.
Southern Europe’s travel and tourism GDP would see slightly slower growth of 2.8% per year, and outpacing the 2.6% per year growth projected for the overall Southern European economy, which is still more than expected growth in both Western and Northern Europe.
This doesn’t imply tourism strongholds in Western Europe won’t be the best-positioned to tackle the influx of travelers traversing their countries between 2015 and 2025. The report’s data show countries such as the U.K., Germany, Iceland and the Netherlands are the most well-placed in terms of their overall infrastructure quality and ability to secure appropriate investments to keep travel and tourism growth on track.
The same Eastern and Southern European countries that the organization projects will see the most growth during the next 10 years are also the countries considered most at risk for not meeting adequate infrastructure needs and securing necessary investments for their travel and tourism sectors. These countries include Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Russia and Serbia.
Portugal in Western Europe is considered the most at-risk among all of the European countries the report looked at.
The organization also considers tourism growth in countries like Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey as well-placed but with some key risks. These risks include their deteriorating infrastructure conditions that are far below overall European standards. However, their key strength will be in attracting investment growth stronger than the European average through 2025, the report found.
Europe’s Tourism Investment Growth
Most of Europe’s investment spending between 2015 and 2025 will be directed towards Western and Northern Europe ($1.5 trillion) while Southern Europe will attract less than half of that ($623 billion) and Eastern Europe even less ($257 billion).
Looking at transportation sector growth for the entire continent, rail travel, including stations and terminals, will see the highest annual percentage growth through 2025 (4% per year) and airports will see just more than 3% growth per year.
The full report is available below: