Mixed picture in EuropeLast year’s growth in foreign visitor arrivals was unevenly distributed across Europe, with some parts receiving more and other parts receiving fewer tourists. International research has shown that travellers are avoiding countries with a great deal of political unrest or recently committed terrorist attacks. In 2016, the number of foreign tourist arrivals increased in Europe by 2.4 percent overall; northern Europe (6.1 percent) as well as central and eastern Europe (3.7 percent) in particular benefited from this growth, whereas western Europe did not record any growth in tourism (0 percent). Tourism in the EU-28 grew by 4.6 percent on average in 2016.
Tourism growing faster in the Netherlands than in EU-28
With an increase of 5.5 percent, the Netherlands achieved faster than average growth in foreign tourist arrivals last year compared to the rest of western Europe. The number of foreign tourists staying in Dutch overnight accommodations last year reached 15.8 million. Growth was also considerably higher than average in 2014 and 2015 compared to both the rest of the EU-28 and the rest of the world. In 2016, this growth was mainly due to tourist arrivals from neighbouring countries including Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium. Of all foreign tourists visiting the Netherlands in 2016, 76 percent where European. The remainder primarily included more tourists from North, Central and South America (9.2 percent). There were fewer tourist arrivals from Asia in 2016 at 2.4 percent.
13 percent more foreign tourists in first 8 months of 2017The advance of global international tourism continued unabated in the first eight months of 2017 with an increase in inbound tourism of 6.6 percent year-on-year. Destinations recently affected by the aftermath of terrorist attacks showed recovery. For example, France recorded 7.5 percent growth in inbound tourism in the first eight months of this year, after it had suffered a 2.2 percent decline in 2016; overall growth in foreign tourism around the EU-28 amounted to 7.7 percent.
At the same time, the Netherlands surpassed the European growth rate again this year, with nearly 12.4 million foreign guests staying in Dutch overnight accommodation, up 13.1 percent year-on-year. There were 900 thousand Asian overnight guests, i.e. a growth rate of no less than 25.6 percent year-on-year. German tourist arrivals surged as well in the first eight months of 2017, increasing by 15.7 percent to a total of almost 3.8 million guests.
Third-largest export product worldwide
The increasing numbers of inbound tourists and their expenditure worldwide have lent growing impact to tourism as an economic sector. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) estimate the contribution of revenues in the global travel and tourism industry to the economy at 1,102 billion euros. In 2016, global tourism occupied a share of around 30 percent in the value of global services exports, equivalent to 7 percent of the world’s gross total value of exports. This makes tourism the third-largest export product worldwide after fuel (gas, oil) and chemical products, ranking higher than food exports.