Touristic flows


Driver description
Interactions within the Social Domain
Interactions with the Economy Domain

Interactions with the Environment Domain
Interactions with the Technology Domain
Impacts on Mobility and Transport

Driver description

  • “The last few years have proved extremely challenging for the travel and tourism industry worldwide, not least in Europe. The second half of 2008 and 2009 saw the worst global economic recession since the 1930s and, although several key economies in Europe had started to register growth by mid-2009, the growth remained fragile, with the region overall suffering a 5% decline in arrivals and a 13% fall in receipts over the full 12 months of the year. Admittedly, arrivals did bounce back in 2010, but the modest 3% increase in arrivals recorded meant that the total lagged 2008’s peak by more than 10%. And Europe’s international tourism receipts continued to decline in 2010 (albeit by only around 1%), falling to well below 2007’s level.” (Ref: CO_0168)
  • “Figure below shows the annual trends in international tourist arrivals worldwide by destination region, as published by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in June 2011.” (Ref: CO_0168)
Figure 1‑25 Growth in international tourist arrivals by world region, 2005-10 (% change over previous year)

Source: European Tourism Insights 2009-10 (Ref: CO_0168)

  • “The graph gives the impression that the results for Europe were only slightly worse than those for the rest of the world. This is a little misleading: because of the importance of Europe in world tourism (it accounted for 52% of global arrivals in 2009), the world total is heavily influenced by Europe. Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East continued to perform substantially better through 2007-09 than Europe, and the totals for the Americas disguise the fact that, while international arrivals lagged in North America (for different reasons in the individual countries), those in Central and South America generally prospered.” (Ref: CO_0168)
  • “The general consensus is that Europeans reacted to the crisis between 2008 and 2010 by travelling closer to home for their holidays (often staying within their home countries), sacrificing secondary holidays in order to maintain their primary holidays, curtailing their lengths of stays and spending, and booking late in order to take advantage of last-minute offers (often spending plenty of time on the internet to find the best of those offers). (Ref: CO_0168)
  • “Business travel was particularly badly affected by the financial and economic crisis. Companies reacted quickly by curtailing business travel (and especially incentive and conference travel). (Ref: CO_0168)
  • “(...), the recession was associated with something that had not been seen for many years: a decline in air travel. According to the ETM, outbound trips by air in Europe fell by 8% in 2009 and recovered by just 4% in 2010.” (Ref: CO_0168)
  • “(...), a recovery in long-haul arrivals has been increasingly evident since 2010, reflecting the greater prosperity in other regions of the world. Depending on the nature of individual destinations, they may have enjoyed recoveries or large increases from the USA, Canada, Japan, China, India, Brazil, the Middle East and other emerging markets.” (Ref: CO_0168)
  • “Travel to European destinations in 2011 has exceeded the prior peak set in 2008.” (Ref: CO_0167)
Figure 1‑26 Europe: Overnight Visitor Arrivals

Source: European Tourism: Trends & Prospects Quarterly Report - Q4/2011 (Ref: CO_0167)

  • “Impressively, 22 of 23 reporting countries show international visitor growth in 2011, ranging from 3% in the UK to more than 20% in Latvia and Lithuania. And 24 of 26 countries show gains in hotel occupancy in 2011.” (Ref: CO_0167)
  • “While the travel recovery has been quite robust, signs of eroding gains began to appear, as expected, in the second half of 2011.” (Ref: CO_0167)
  • “Not surprisingly, travel to European destinations has slowed in recent months. The combination of fiscal austerity and financial market stress brought about by the Eurozone debt crisis is affecting both consumer and business behaviour. And (...), the spectre of a global recession is not an insignificant risk as even emerging markets have begun to slow.” (Ref: CO_0167)
  • “In 2011, Europe generated USD518.7bn in visitor exports. In 2012, this is expected to grow by 0.4%, and the region is expected to attract 503,865,000 international tourist arrivals. By 2022, international tourist arrivals are forecast to total 627,744,000, generating expenditure of USD674.9bn, an increase of 2.6% pa.” (Ref: CO_0166)
  • “In recent years, domestic and intra-regional tourism, especially in emerging economies such as China, Thailand, India, Korea and Mexico, have grown rapidly and according to WTTC[1] forecasts, Chinese demand for travel and tourism will quadruple in value in the next ten years. At present China ranks a distant second, behind United States, in terms of demand, but by 2018 it will have closed much of the gap.” (Ref: CO_5048)
  • “Three main reasons trigger off these flows: 1.Business; 2.VFR/Visiting friends and relatives: In this respect, the search of roots is very strong (for instance travelling to/from former communist countries); 3. Culture, leisure and enjoyment: in developed and in developing countries, tourism is part of a way of life and the newcomers to tourism era seem to expect similar types of holidays as the “old tourists.” (Ref: CO_5036)
  • “Russians are now the ninth biggest spenders in the world on tourism abroad, according to UNWTO, with international travel expenditure up a massive 34% in 2010 (as against a drop of 12% in 2009). Russian outbound trip volume was just under 21 million in 2008 and was estimated at 23-24 million in 2010 – after falling in 2009 and staging a solid recovery the following year. Holidays account for about 74% of total trip volume.” (Ref: CO_0166)
  • “European destinations that have seen exceptional growth from Russia in the past couple of years (in addition to Turkey) are: (in both years) Estonia; (in 2009) Montenegro; and (in 2010) Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain and the UK.” (Ref: CO_0166)
  • “The destinations that have most benefited from the growing demand from Russia have been those offering visa-free travel, or at least visas on arrival.” (Ref: CO_0166)
  • “Recently, it has become obvious that the way a visa is delivered can either facilitate these tourism flows or hinder them considerably. For example, the introduction of the Biometric Visa for the USA in 2006 resulted in a 30 to 40% decrease of European visitors; whereas Europe is currently losing market share among Chinese international travellers: the European Commission is aware of this and has taken steps.” (Ref: CO_5036)
  • “China was one of the few leading outbound travel markets around the world that continued to show positive growth through the recession, with trip volume rising 4% in 2009 and 20% in 2010. As a result, the market ousted the UK from third place among the world's top tourism spenders in 2010, with a 26% increase in expenditure on travel and tourism abroad (in US dollar terms), to US$54.9 billion.” (Ref: CO_0166)
  • “Europe now receives some 3.8 million Chinese annually – 200,000 more than the Japanese count. The number is clearly higher if measured in terms of cumulative arrivals in different European destinations, since the Chinese still tend to visit multiple destinations on one trip.” (Ref: CO_0166)
  • “Although the level of interest in Europe as a 'dream' leisure destination is high, and some growth is forecast, demand over the foreseeable future will continue to be relatively low and compromised by cost. The Chinese are surrounded by destinations with which they have greater cultural affinity, which are easier to travel to and offer excellent value for money.” (Ref: CO_0166)
  • “Although an estimated 50% of all Indian outbound trips are for business rather than leisure, according to IPK International's World Travel Monitor, the market has confirmed its earlier promise by nearly tripling in terms of outbound trip volume over the last ten years. In 2010, Indians made 11.8 million trips abroad, 8% more than in 2009, roughly unchanged over 2008.” (Ref: CO_0166)
  • “Few European destinations have provided figures for arrivals from India in 2009 and 2010 – the market still does not appear to be monitored in detail by the majority of ETC Members. However, it is clear from these few that India has been generating increases in tourist numbers, even for the mature European destinations that are finding it difficult to attract larger numbers from their traditional markets.” (Ref: CO_0166)
  • “The best performers in the Indian market – in terms of percentage growth in arrivals and/or nights – appear to have been Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden Switzerland and the UK.” (Ref: CO_0166)
  • “The Indian leisure traveller is now more open to exploring newer destinations, according to the latest edition of the Nielsen India Outbound Monitor. And many of these are in Asia. This could be detrimental to Europe's prospects. Destinations such as China, the Maldives, Indonesia, the African continent, and even neighbouring Bangladesh, have witnessed a significant increase in interest among Indian travellers as destinations they plan to visit in the future.” (Ref: CO_0166)

[1] World Travel & Tourism Council

Interactions within the Social Domain

Migration flows

  • “(...) migration and tourism tend to become mutually interacting geographic phenomena whose importance is rapidly growing. Migration – related tourism seems to become an important segment of global tourism.” (Ref: CO_0092)

Change of lifestyle and values

  • “In many European markets, domestic and cross-border travel is still more popular than longer-haul trips. Consumers book at the last minute and search the internet intensively for offers and bargains, and they remain very price-sensitive. Length of stay and spending per night have both declined; all-inclusive and fully independent travel (FIT) arrangements have both become popular. And the luxury and economy segments have both recovered, at the expense of the middle ground.” (Ref: CO_0168)
  • “As people travel more, they also become more aware of the culture and environment of the places they travel to, and they reflect more on their own experience and lifestyle.” (Ref: CO_0168)
  • “Demand for well-being, health & fitness and stress management products is growing in the developed economies. However competition is also growing in some areas of Europe as private capital is injected into the upgrading of old style health and spa facilities.” (Ref: CO_0023)
  • “As medical services get more expensive in Europe, so Europeans will travel to Asia and other more reasonably priced destinations for a wide range of medical services. Equally, the highly developed medical services available in Europe represent an opportunity to develop incoming tourism in specific niche markets. There will be also a growing intra European medical tourism market as a result of longer waiting lists and insurance companies looking to cut costs.” (Ref: CO_0023)


  • “Cultural tourism is growing in Europe, but there is little evidence to suggest that festival market is expanding through increased interest in culture among existing consumers. The major driver of increased consumption is likely to be rising education levels. This suggests that new consumers will come from areas where education and personal wealth are improving, such as Central and Eastern Europe and Asia.” (Ref: CO_0023)
  • “Travelling depends highly on purchasing power – especially in the currency of the destination – and on the level of instruction. The latest developments have showed a parallel increase of mass tourism and of "de luxe" tourism; as a whole, except for a niche market of European senior citizens, the length of stay is short: from 2 days to 2 weeks.” (Ref: CO_5036)

Interactions with the Economy Domain

GDP trends

  • “[In Europe] The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP in 2011 was USD612.8bn (2.8% of GDP). This is forecast to rise by 0.3% to USD614.4bn in 2012.This primarily reflects the economic activity generated by industries such as hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services (excluding commuter services). But it also includes, for example, the activities of the restaurant and leisure industries directly supported by tourists. The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP is expected to grow by 2.6% pa to USD791.9bn (2.8% of GDP) by 2022.” (Ref: CO_0166)


  • “Tourism is said to be the world’s largest employer. In 2001, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated that globally over 207 million jobs were directly or indirectly dependent upon tourism.” (Ref: CO_5048)
  • “[In Europe] Travel & Tourism generated 9,937,000 jobs directly in 2011 (2.7% of total employment) and this is forecast to grow by 0.4% in 2012 to 9,980,500 (2.7% of total employment). This includes employment by hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services (excluding commuter services). It also includes, for example, the activities of the restaurant and leisure industries directly supported by tourists. By 2022, Travel & Tourism will account for 11,262,000 jobs directly, an increase of 1.2% pa over the next ten years.” (Ref: CO_0166)

Regional differences in economics

  • “The Low Cost Airlines (LCA) activity has a significant share of passenger travel for leisure purposes, the main economic sector to benefit is tourism. LCA’s business model leads these companies to choose regional airports, which are, in many cases, located in depressed and underdeveloped economic regions. Moreover, these regions are commonly unknown to most people, and by flying to them and advertising those on their websites LCAs improve regions’ visibility.” (Ref: CO_5037)
  • “The impact on regional economies derived from air transport corresponds to the increase in employment in activities directly related to air transport, such as: airlines; handling, maintenance and catering companies; airports; shopping within airports; or parking facilities. It is estimated that 1000 jobs are created for every million passengers through an airport. Indirect effects, which correspond to the increase in employment and economic activity in the region as a result of the increase in flows of people, for tourism and business purposes.” (Ref: CO_5037)

Foreign trade, globalisation

  • “Thanks to globalization (‘global village’), many families have moved from their original home to other countries – a development which especially affects the levels of VFR (visits to friends & relatives) movement.” (Ref: CO_0023)

Fiscal policy

  • “Climate mitigation studies conclude that policies may increase costs of tourism and reduce its economic growth in case of carbon taxes or oil price increases, though other studies find no significant impacts or believe that second order effects like a mode shift from aviation to the car, may even increase overall emissions when taxing aviation.” (Ref: CO_0187)
  • “Reducing the number of medium and long haul trips may hypothetically be achieved in different ways: high taxes on air travel, issuing a system of personal travel budgets or capacity restrictions within the (air) transport sector. The question is whether tourists will simply cancel their long haul trips when confronted with such measures and spend their money outside the tourism industry or if they will choose a closer destination.” (Ref: CO_0187)

Interactions with the Environment Domain

Climate change impacts

  • “[In Europe] most tourism trips are domestic or between neighbouring countries. However the environmental impacts are mainly generated by long-haul tourism.” (Ref: CO_0186)
  • “(...) tourism is not developing sustainably with respect to climate change.” (Ref: CO_0187)
  • “Tourism related emissions are expected to continue to grow through the end of this century, and emission reductions of more than 80% are required to avoid ‘dangerous’ climate change. The main drivers for the environmentally unsustainable development of tourism are the increasing number of tourism trips and, on top of that, an increase of average travel speed caused by an increasing use of air transport, and resulting in an increase of average distances travelled.” (Ref: CO_0187)
  • “Climate change is one of the biggest long-term issues facing the tourist industry, and it could lead to the loss of many destinations whose appeal depends on their natural environment. Many low-lying coastal regions are at risk from rising sea levels – as is already evident in the case of Venice.” (Ref: CO_0023)

GHG mitigation

  • “Several studies have shown that in the 2050s, tourism related greenhouse gas emissions will be larger than global emissions and will surpass the global emission ceiling that safeguards against ‘dangerous’ climate change. Proposed mitigation of tourism’s greenhouse gas emissions focuses mainly on technological improvements such as improving the energy efficiency of accommodations and transport modes, using low carbon fuels (mainly bio-fuels for aviation and electric cars for road transport), and off-setting the emissions through funding reductions in other sectors. Using these measures, the sector envisages reducing total emissions by 50% by 2035, but this ambition is deemed un-realistic, unless a strong change in tourism transport modes and distances is effected.” (Ref: CO_0187)

Interactions with the Technology Domain

Technology development in general and innovation diffusion

  • “The internet will drive the next generation of travel / tourism product distribution methods.” (Ref: CO_0023)

Booking and Payment systems

  • “Experienced travellers are well versed in the organisational aspects of their trips and the reservation/booking systems that service them. And they well demand higher quality experiences and service at all levels of expenditures” (Ref: CO_0023)
  • “New electronic payment systems will be developed, secure credit cards, e-pursues, etc. these will make it easier to transfer money and overcome concerns about excessive transfer charges, exchange rates, and the security of moving money on line.” (Ref: CO_0023)

Impacts on Mobility and Transport

Travelling by car will remain the most preferred alternative for tourists

  • “The car remains the primary means of travel for tourists – travel by car in industrial countries accounts for more than 70% of all tourism journeys. The cultural necessity for car transport that has developed in most countries means that consumers and oil companies will search for alternative fuels in the face of rising oil prices, with the result that car travel will continue to dominate in the medium and long term as well.” (Ref: CO_0023)

Demand for air travel will probably increase, though a slowdown in pace should be expected

  • “New destinations are being created through improved accessibility, such as the development of new airports. The development of budget airlines is also changing travel patterns in Europe very rapidly.” (Ref: CO_0023)
  • “For air travel there will be continuing amalgamations between long-haul carriers, whilst low-fare operators will continue to seek more secondary destinations. The increasing costs of fuels, security and airport charges may eventually slow the pace of growth.” (Ref: CO_0023)

Expected increase in rail mode

  • “For rail travel, government investment in new high speed lines will eventually bring lower prices, improving services and increasing speed.” (Ref: CO_0023)
  • “(...) for shorter trips, rail will become a significant competitor to air travel.” (Ref: CO_0023)

Travels by coach and by cruises will probably have to face some constraint

  • “For coach travel the main problem will be pressure on parking and access to city centres. Cheap air travel prices could also influence coach travel negatively.” (Ref: CO_0023)
  • “In the cruise market growing demand is being met by new and ever larger ships, but there is a lack of cruise terminals, especially in the Mediterranean. This is likely to lead to the development of more terminals as destinations strive to capitalise on market growth.” (Ref: CO_0023)