European Tourism Slowed in 2016, But It Was More Affordable Due to Brexit

Jan 27, 2017

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Although tourism continued to grow around the world in 2016, data suggests concerns over Brexit and terrorism combined to stall travel to Europe. The findings come from the United Nations World Tourism Office (UNWTO) and hotel data analysts STR.

According to the UNWTO, overall tourism grew for the seventh consecutive year following the economic turmoil of 2009. Regions with the most growth included Asia and the Pacific and Africa, with each area experiencing an 8% growth rate compared to 2015. On the other hand, Europe experienced just 2% growth compared to the year before.

Of the 620 million travelers who visited Europe in 2016, more elected to travel to Northern and Central Europe, with each region seeing a combined average of 5% growth last year. Arrivals in Southern Europe grew by just 1%, while Western Europe saw zero growth. The experts at the UNWTO attributed this to concerns over “safety and security” in the past year, after terrorist attacks struck in Brussels, Nice and Berlin.

The British Referendum also had a noted effect on tourism in the United Kingdom. According to STR, occupancy rates dropped slightly in Britain last year, while the average nightly hotel rate stayed stable at about $112 per night. Because of this, London in particular saw nearly 7% in growth fueled by a weaker British Pound after the Brexit vote.

In the coming year, the United Kingdom and Europe could continue to be a discounted destination for travelers, due to projected minimal growth in the region. The UNWTO projects international tourism to grow at a 3% rate in the coming year, while STR projects more Brits will be opting for a “staycation” in 2017 due to the devaluation of the pound.

Accordingly, many of the deals The Points Guy has discovered in 2017 have been focused around European travel. Since January 21, airlines have announced low fares to Amsterdam, Brussels, Munich, Madrid and Zurich.

Featured image courtesy TangMan Photography via Getty Images.

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