What is most significant in arrival numbers for the year as at end October 2017 is the shift in the proportion of European arrivals in comparison to that from Asia and the Pacific?
There is a decrease in absolute numbers from Asia and the Pacific region of less than 5000, which amounts to a decrease of just 0.9% compared to the same period last year. The shift is not so much due to a decrease from the Asia and Pacific source markets.
The number of arrivals from Europe during the year increased by almost 50,000, compared to the same period last year, which amounts to an increase of 10.7% year on year.
The number of arrivals from Asia Pacific region has decreased mainly due to the decrease in arrivals from China, which fell by 8.2% compared to the same period in 2016. Due to the scale of Chinese arrivals this is a significant decrease in absolute terms, amounting to over 23,700.
The fall has been somewhat compensated by improved performance from countries such as India with an increase of 25% and Korea with plus 15.7%. Arrivals from India increased by over 13,000, reaching 63,141 compared to 50,369 for the period last year.
Europe is showing a rosier picture in terms of growth. Although it is not dramatic, the performance can be rated as very good when we look at European arrivals across the board. In fact all the countries with the exception of the United Kingdom, Poland and Latvia showed an increase in arrivals for the period January to October 2017 when compared to the same period last year.
Countries which have contributed more than 10,000 arrivals during the year, that have registered significant increases in arrivals include Russia with an increase of 32%, Italy with 21.9%, Spain 11%, Austria 10% and Netherlands showing an increase of 19.7%. These five countries alone pushed the European arrival numbers by over 29,000 compared to the same period last year.
Although there is a shift of six percentage points favoring arrivals from Europe, the general composition of the national source markets has remained the same compare to that of last year. China dominates in terms of contribution to total arrivals by far, with 265,417 arrivals as at end of October, which amounted to 23.6% of all arrivals during the period.
Although this is by far the most important source market, the proportion of Chinese tourist as a percentage of total arrivals has gently declined over the last few years with 30.2% in 2014, 29.1% in 2015 and 25.2% in 2016.
Of the six major source markets for the year, the United Kingdom and China are the only countries, which have registered lower number of arrivals this year compared to the same period last year.
There is no doubt that the traditional source markets of Northern and Western Europe have been overshadowed by the massive and rapid increase in arrivals from China during the period 2008 to 2012, which also coincided with the recession in Europe.
In spite of this, the industry certainly recognizes the fact that these markets have continued to remain among the top five source markets for the county’s tourism. The United Kingdom, Germany and Italy rank 2nd, 3rd and 4th in rank among top source markets for this year.
If we look at the total number of arrivals from these three countries and add other mid-level contributors such as France and Switzerland, their contribution to arrivals as whole surpass that of China. Hence the traditional source markets are of significant importance.
What has been also more significant is that these markets have continued to show steady growth during the last three years.
There are some non-traditional markets too among those that have been steadily growing. Some of them have yet to contribute a significant proportion of the total arrivals in order to be recognized as being important source markets. These include the USA, Australia, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands. Nevertheless it is important to note that these markets have been growing in significance.
The industry can look at the numbers for the last four years with some satisfaction. In spite of the political and economic upheavals in Europe and the United Kingdom, arrivals form Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy is showing steady growth.
India, which now ranks number five among the top source markets, shows the sharpest growth since 2013. The only exception is that the comparative figures for 2016 and 2017 indicate that this steady growth may slow down here for the United Kingdom, at least for now.