‘European tourism will lose to new Asian markets


Tourism in Europe will lose to new markets in east Asia, the Pacific and Middle East over the next two decades, Austrian tourist industry expert Egon Smeral said on Tuesday.

Despite a boost from E.U. enlargement particularly for Germany, Austria and Italy, Europe’s total share of the world tourism market would decrease from nearly 60 per cent in 2000 to 46 per cent in the year 2020.

Smeral, a tourism analyst with the Austrian Economic Research Institute (WIFO), said that the tourism flows were fundamentally steered by income developments. However, tourism in developed economies tended to become more expensive, which was a dampener in that direction.

The overall growth of world tourism, in terms of arrivals, was currently 6 per cent annually, compared to an average world growth of gross domestic product of just over 3 per cent. There were presently nine to ten billion overnight stays by tourists around the world every year.

Presenting his new book, The Future of International Tourism, Smeral said international crises generally only had short-term effects. If there were to be a war against Iraq in the near future, the decline in the number of tourists would only be temporary.

An example was the Gulf War 12 years ago when overnight stays by U.S. vacationers in Austria halved, only to return to their original level two years later. Similarly, phases of a world economic slowdown only had a brief effect.

A big boost for Austria would be the E.U. enlargement bringing 200,000 to 300,000 more tourists each year, Smeral predicted. In Austria, the present trend was away from longer holidays to shorter ones of a few days and ‘higher quality’. There had also been a huge expansion of the health and ‘wellness’ sector.

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