European city tourism is growing faster than any other area of the European economy, according to a new study.
Commissioned by European Cities Marketing (‘ECM’), the association that represents more than one hundred European cities, tourist boards and convention bureaus, the report finds that the city break boom started in 2000, three years after a number of low-cost airlines opened new routes across Europe, causing the city break market to grow at unprecedented levels, and with a rise in the average length of stay for a city break.
The key European destinations – Berlin, Barcelona and Prague – have collectively seen an annualised increase of 550,000 room nights per annum. Ease of access and heavy hitting marketing campaigns have helped these cities to establish their leading position in Europe’s city break market.
Apart from the more traditional cities and towns, the city break boom has benefited other destinations on the Baltic and Adriatic Seas along with less prolific destinations in central Europe.
Emerging destinations that saw a dramatic increase in overnight stays (2000–2005) include Dubrovnik (Croatia) +130%; Tallinn (Estonia) +92%; Ljubljana (Slovenia) +71%; Zagreb (Croatia) +64%; Valencia (Spain) +60%; Turin (Italy) +50% and Bratislava (Slovakia) +46%.
Northern Europe, excluding the Baltic States, has been the strongest sub-regional performer (+6.0%) in Europe. Finland, Ireland and the UK have led the growth.
Indeed, in 2007 already Brits have benefited from increased budget flights to destinations such as Copenhagen (Read more: New Daily Flights from Leeds to Copenhagen), Milan and Paris (Read More: easyJet Launch New Routes) and Barcelona (Read more: New flights from Cardiff to Barcelona).
Other destinations achieving growth rates in 2006 well above the average were Germany – thanks largely to its hosting of the FIFA World Cup – the Netherlands and Switzerland.
The report also found that online travel booking will continue to increase in 2007, with 36% of Europeans now booking their holidays online, as against 23% in 2004. The British are among the most enthusiastic online travellers, with 50% of all outbound trips now booked through the internet – nearly double the 27% German share.