lundi 12 mars 2012

Tourism to become economic driver in 2012

The European Commission opens year 2012 on very optimistic news. The tendency that emerged in previous years seems to become a trend. 72% of EU citizens travelled in 2011, and more than 80% said that they would do so in 2012, choosing to go either on short trips or longer holidays. The Eurobarometer revealed also that in 2011 more citizens chose to stay in Europe for their holidays; many more have said they will do so in 2012. These are the results of the new Eurobarometer survey on the attitudes of Europeans towards tourism, which also sheds light on the preferences and travel patterns of EU citizens (30,000 randomly selected citizens aged 15 and over were interviewed in January 2012 in the 27 EU Member States as well as in Norway, Iceland, Croatia, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Israel.)

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "Our continent's cultural and natural richness, and long-standing traditions of hospitality, are still close to the hearts of Europeans. The European Tourism sector has performed well, and it even grew in 2011.”

 Which trends ?

The complete records are on the European Commission website, but some are really specific:

The majority of EU-residents are confident travellers, who prefer arranging their holidays by themselves: 53% of Europeans booked their holidays via internet. As informed and empowered consumers, 49% of those who went on holiday in 2011 organised the various elements of their trip separately, rather than booking them altogether in one package. But they still rely on recommendations from family and friends about where to go. "Word of mouth" was relevant to 52% of EU travellers, more than internet websites (40%).

Travelling is done mostly by car and motorbike. Those who travelled in 2011 preferred to travel by these means of transport (78%), much more than in 2010 (44%). However, 2011 also recorded a slight increase in the use of aeroplanes compared to 2010 (46% compared to 39%).

Nights are spent mostly in hotels or rented accommodation: European travellers chose to stay in paid-for accommodations, regardless of the length of their holidays (this applied to 54% of those who went on short trips and 60% of those who spent at least four nights away).

European travellers seek rest and recreation: 48% of those who went on holidays in 2011 had this objective in mind, more than in 2010 (36%), followed by "sun and beach" and "visiting family and friends" (28%).

They value natural beauty and quality service: more than 50% of EU residents would go back to the same place, for its natural features. More than 90% of EU respondents were satisfied with their choice of destination and with the quality of the accommodation.

72% of Europeans travelled in 2011: the proportion of EU citizens who went away last year (72%) remained substantially unchanged compared to last year’s survey. European travellers preferred their own country (Greece 80%, Italy 74%, Croatia 73%), or another country in the EU. Spain was the most visited country in 2011 (11%), followed by Italy (9%), France (8%), Germany (5%), Austria (5%) and Greece (4%).

Europeans will travel in 2012: 73% of the respondents will not give up to their holidays despite the crisis, although 33% have had to change their original plans. 41% of respondents who will travel in 2012 are planning longer holidays (between 4 and 13 nights), rather than short–stay trips (27%). Preference will be given again to their own country (52%) or to another country in the EU (37%). Preferred destinations in 2012 will be Spain (10%), Italy (7%), France (6%), Greece (4%), Austria, United Kingdom and Germany (3%).

At the end the surprise is not coming from the priority that is given to vacation by Europeans and the importance of tourism as an engine for economy despite the crisis, but that tourists seem to have no innovative behavior and stay in the same tracks than at the end of last century. What about cultural tourism, slow tourism, green tourism? We certainly have to wait a future survey to go in depth in this new habits. 

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