European Tourism celebrates after a better summer this year


The European tourism industry is celebrating after a relatively successful summer this year.


According to figures released by the World Tourism Organisation, the number of international tourist arrivals grew by 5% in the first half of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012 – a figure that represents around 500 million people.


However, the statistics reveal it is a mixed bag for tourism in the continent, with different countries in Europe faring better than others.


The peak summer tourist season largely ignored the recession in Greece, with income from tourism increasing by 21 per cent (€1.59 billion) in June 2013, compared to June 2012.


It is thought that, by the end of the year, the number of people travelling to Greece will have increased by between 10-13%, which is a welcome boost for the country and its beautiful islands.


Meanwhile, despite its economic issues, tourism is is also on the up for Spain.


According to the Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Tourism, the country welcomed 7.9 million foreign visitors in July – a 2.9 per cent increase and a new inbound record for July.


Indeed, the Spanish National Institute expects the country to welcome more than 58 million tourists in 2013 – over five per cent more than in 2012.


However, the success of Greece and Spain seems to have hit visitor numbers to France, where the Union of Trades and Hospitality Industries (UTHI) noted a 10 per cent decline in occupancy levels of hotels and restaurants in July.


The UTHI president, Roland Heguy, said tourism figures were “very bad everywhere in France”, offering a variety of contributing factors, including “the weather, the economic crisis, the purchasing power of the French, lower last-minute sales, and increased competition from other European destinations.”


The top tourist region in France this summer was the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur, which saw 1.8 million tourists per day, with €6 billion in tourist spending.


The year also looks bright for Morocco, which saw a three per cent increase in tourism numbers between April and August, according to the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT).


The majority of the country’s hotels were fully booked in August, with the National Federation of Tourism suggesting that the instability of neighbouring countries had been beneficial to Morocco.


In Tunisia, the fortunes differ, with the 2011 revolution continuing to damage tourism performance.


According to the Tunisian Press agency (TAP), the number of tourists increased by nearly five per cent in the first half of 2013, although this is dramatically lower (-9.8%) than in 2010.


The civil unrest in Egypt devastated the country’s tourism industry, with many tourists turning their back on Egypt.


Indeed, many tour operators have stopped offering trips to Egypt, with Costa Cruises cancelling all stops in the country for the time being.


However, despite Egypt and Tunisia’s turbulent times, it seems that Europe enjoyed a relatively successful summer, with numbers on the up, and even better figures possibly on the cards for 2014.


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