Fears over terrorism and people having less money mean global travel is still growing but that growth is slowing according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
In the update of its Economic Impact Reports 2016 the travel industry group predicts spending by travellers this year will rise 3.1 percent, but points out that is better than global economic growth which is forecast to be 2.3 percent this year.
WTTC president David Scowsill put more emphasis on the economy than on terrorism: “Travellers aren’t going to allow isolated terrorist attacks to put them off travelling.”
However he added: “The Paris incident did have an impact because it’s the first point of entry to Europe for a lot of Asian and North American travelers.”
“Time for a relief plan”
The French capital Paris is suffering. Tourism officials calculate a one billion euro fall in revenue so far this year for the greater Paris area.
After the Islamic terror attacks in France, tourist destinations around the country have seen fewer visitors as people chose Spain or Italy instead.
Visitors to the Arc de Triomphe fell more than a third in the first half of 2016 from the same period a year earlier, the tourist board said.
The Grand Palais museum reported a 43.9 percent slump and the Palace of Versailles just short of 20 percent.
“It’s time to realise that the tourism sector is going through an industrial disaster,” the head of the Paris region tourist board, Frederic Valletoux, said.
Only massive new investments can help protect jobs, said Valletoux, urging France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to meet officials from the sector.
“This is no longer the time for communication campaigns but to set up a relief plan,” he said.
In a message on Twitter, Ayrault said he was adding 500,000 euros to the one million euro budget the state was contributing under a global 2.5 million euro plan unveiled in March to promote France as a tourist destination.
For all of Europe tourism growth is expected to be only 2.2 percent this year.
Turmoil and terrorism in Turkey have had a huge effect with visitor numbers down by as much as half following a series of bombings and the failed coup.
The World Travel and Tourism Council says fewer international arrivals means the sector’s contribution to GDP there will shrink by over three percent this year.
Despite hosting the Olympics, tourism in Brazil is expected to contract and Latin America is expected to be the worst performer of all the global regions with an anticipated decline of almost one percent.
Asian travellers drive growth
The growth is being driven driven by increasing numbers of travellers from Asian countries, especially China and India.
“There’s lots of macro-economic weakness around, but the travel and tourism industry is doing very well. It’s the same level of growth as 2015,” the WTTC’s David Scowsill said.
He explained that despite security concerns, people were still travelling but had shifted destinations. Asian travellers were tending to choose Australia for vacations this year instead of Europe, for example.