The consequences of the eurozone crisis for holiday destinations in southern Europe

The consequences of the eurozone crisis for holiday destinations in southern Europe

To what degree does negative reporting on countries in crisis impact on their tourism statistics? This was the question which ITB Berlin and the market research institute IPK International examined as part of a travel trend assessment by the World Travel Monitor®. Their conclusion was that, compared with last year, arrivals in Greece from northern and central Europe were in decline. All other southern European holiday destinations were less badly affected and were able to balance losses and even grow.

From January to August 2012, compared with 2011, arrivals in Greece fell by 12 per cent. This figure is put into perspective when one looks at last year, when Greece benefited indirectly from the Arab Spring and grew by 7 per cent. Preceding years had already witnessed a slight decline. Arrivals from countries such as Germany and the UK were particularly low, with 20 to 30 per cent less trips to Greece. New markets such as Russia and Romania helped to partially halt the downward trend.

Italy, Spain and Portugal fared better. In 2011 arrivals in Italy grew by four per cent. This year, incoming numbers from Germany and the UK were down by three and one per cent respectively. There was a particularly harsh decline in arrivals from Spain which dropped by all of 18 per cent. Emerging markets such as Russia and Poland grew substantially and significantly boosted the overall incoming statistics. Overall, Italy reported two per cent growth in tourism.

The Iberian peninsula was also able to balance a large part of its losses by gaining new source markets. Thus, in 2011 Spain benefited significantly from the political situation in the Arab countries and reported eight per cent growth in arrivals.

This year the incoming numbers from the UK again grew by 5 per cent, while those from Germany stagnated. Arrivals from Italy fell by 14 per cent, a significant drop. Spain is becoming an increasingly popular destination with new source markets and reported a double-digit increase in arrivals from Russia and Scandinavia. Overall, trips to Spain rose by 3 per cent.

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The situation is similar in Portugal. Following the Arab Spring it reported nine per cent more arrivals than last year, and in 2012 incoming numbers from Germany rose by four per cent, marking an upward trend. Incoming numbers from Russia and Scandinavia were even more positive. However, as was expected, there was a significant drop in arrivals from Italy and Spain. All in all, trips to Portugal grew by three per cent.

“There is an evident decline in trips between countries in crisis. Demand in central Europe has remained more or less constant and has even grown in the new markets“, is how Dr. Martin Buck, director of the Competence Center Travel & Logistics, Messe Berlin, commented this analysis. “The study highlights the complex relationship between the eurozone crisis and arrivals in southern Europe.“