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City trips set for continued growth despite terror attacks

City trips are the fastest-growing part of the international leisure travel market as Europeans, Asians, North and South Americans head for attractive destinations in nearby countries and also overseas. The outlook for the market segment remains positive despite the short-term impact of the terror attacks in Paris, according to experts. However, concerns are increasing about the impact of large masses in very popular destinations. These are among the findings in the ITB World Travel Trends Report, which is produced by tourism consultancy IPK International on behalf of ITB Berlin, the world’s leading travel trade show.


Strong outbound growth in all regions

City trips soared by 82 percent between 2007 and 2014 to reach a 22 percent share of all outbound holiday trips worldwide, according to IPK’s World Travel Monitor®. “This was the really dynamic segment that has driven market growth over the last seven years,” IPK president Rolf Freitag commented. This strong increase has been driven by cheap flights and low-cost accommodation as well as new attractions and activities.


Growth was led by Asia Pacific where city trips increased from about 15 percent of all outbound holiday trips in 2007 to about 25 percent last year. This strong growth reflects in particular the dramatic increase in the number of Chinese people going on international trips, many of them on short trips to cities in Asia. South Americans are also going on more international city trips, mostly within the continent. City trips increased their share of outbound holiday trips by nine percentage points to more than one fifth last year, boosted by travel to Brazilian cities for the football World Cup championship.


In Europe, city trips grew to about 20 percent of all outbound holiday trips last year from about 15 percent in 2007, World Travel Monitor® figures show. In North America, city trips had a share of less than one fifth of the outbound holiday market in 2014. This slightly lower figure compared to other regions is largely due to geography as many major outbound city destinations are long-haul trips from a North American perspective. European cities, for example, are especially popular with US and Canadian tourists.


Hong Kong, Paris and New York are top three ‘metropolitan’ destinations

Hong Kong, Paris and New York were the world’s top three ‘metropolitan’ travel destinations (city plus its surroundings) in 2014, according to the World Travel Monitor®. Hong Kong remained number one, when cross-border overnight trips by Chinese residents to the territory are included. The other top ten destinations were London, Macau, Bangkok, Barcelona, Singapore, Istanbul and Munich.


Limits to growth?

Meanwhile, tourism experts are increasingly concerned about the impact of large masses in very popular destinations, according to the ITB World Travel Trends Report. Venice, for example, is worried about the impact of high numbers of cruise passengers arriving simultaneously and then flooding through the city’s narrow streets to see the main sights all at the same time. In Barcelona, there has been well-publicised criticism by residents of the historic city centre and other districts about the number of tourists crowding through their neighbourhoods. IPK president Rolf Freitag confirmed: “This is becoming a problem in some cities. In particular, cruise ships are causing problems with their large passenger numbers.” He predicted that some cities might consider limits on the number of visitors in the next few years.


Dr. Martin Buck, Messe Berlin’s Senior Vice President/Director Travel & Logistics ITB Berlin, commented: “City trips have clearly been a key growth driver for worldwide travel and tourism in recent years. International research shows that terror attacks often have only a relatively short-term impact and that the tourism industry remains very robust in the face of crises around the world.”


The results and findings in the ITB World Travel Trends Report are based on presentations and discussions at the annual World Travel Monitor® Forum in Pisa, which is supported by ITB Berlin. Initiated at the invitation of consultancy IPK International, more than 50 tourism experts and academics from around the world present the latest figures and current trends in international tourism.


Additional results of IPK International’s trend surveys from January to August 2015 together with the estimates of 50 tourism experts from more than 20 countries and the key data from the World Travel Monitor® are published exclusively by ITB Berlin. The detailed results will appeared in the ITB World Travel Trends Report under www.itb-berlin.com. The World Travel Monitor® final results for the year, including the latest outlook for 2016, will be presented at the ITB Convention by Rolf Freitag, President of IPK International. The World Travel Monitor® is based on representative interviews with more than 500,000 people a year in more than 60 travel markets worldwide, and has been regularly conducted for more than 20 years. It is recognised as the largest continuous study into global travel patterns.

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