South and Central America seen as primary competition
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —Pent-up demand, growing consumer confidence and a strong U.S. dollar may help fuel a resurgence of U.S. tourists traveling to Europe, according to a report from the World Tourism Organization.
Despite updated projections that the U.S. economy will only grow by about 1.7 percent next year, international tourism officials said outbound U.S. tourism to Europe is expected to return to pre-2008 levels by 2014.
“Although the industry’s focus has turned towards emerging markets … we should not forget Europe’s most significant market, the USA,” said Petra Hedorfer, president of the European Travel Commission. ”In 2010, Europe attracted 11 million US citizens, a figure expected to rise in the future. It is therefore our duty to strengthen Europe’s image as an exciting and dynamic destination in spite of economic turmoil and changing consumer interests.”
The latest report on outbound U.S. tourism was presented earlier this month at the World Travel Market in London. Based on interviews with U.S. tour operators, the research shows that, while U.S. travelers to Europe appear to financially resilient, they are still looking for bargains. The key findings from the report are online here.
American travelers spent $75 billion on travel abroad in 2010, making it the second most important source market in the world.
“The US market occupies a unique position for European tourism. It combines great wealth with conspicuously strong cultural ties. These two factors mean that it will continue to be the principal engine for inbound demand into the foreseeable future. But, like any other dynamic economy, it is changing,” said European Tour Operators Association director Tom Jenkins.
The research found that:
- Europe remains an aspirational „must-see‟ destination for Americans. Its appeal is deeply embedded in the American mind.
- Its appeals are its diversity, and in particular its history, culture and hospitable people. It offers Americans the opportunity to immerse themselves in the European way of life, to get under Europe’s skin, and to feel almost like an „honorary local‟ during their visit in a way that few other destinations do.
- Europe’s famous cities, its scenic landscape and range of gastronomic experiences make it „familiarly different‟ for American visitors. Europe is also perceived as „compact‟ and safe; and it is easy to communicate, because English is widely spoken throughout Europe.
- Tourism leaders are trying to understand Europe’s continued appeal to American travelers in the context of massive demographic changes in the U.S.
The most recent census figures suggest that the white non-Hispanic population will decrease by almost a third between 1990 and 2050 (from 75.7 percent to 52.5 percent) and the population of Hispanic origin will more than double during the same period (from 9 percent to 22.5 percent).
Europe’s main competition comes from Central and South America, as a region offering history, culture and friendly people, which is relatively accessible. This competition is likely to increase as more people discover Central and South America and the Hispanic proportion of the US population grows.