Here are the top 5 winners and losers of major regions of the world based on the inbound arrivals 2014-15.
- Countries with a comparable offering to France, Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia (which were hit by terrorist attacks) saw booming international arrivals. Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy, in particular, attracted growing numbers of visitors.
- With the exception of Heraklion, on Crete, and Rhodes, which continued to be impacted by the continuing migrant crisis, all cities in these countries showed strong growth.
- Athens had another record year with arrivals growing by 22.6% in 2015, despite political and economic turmoil.
- In Italy, Milan performed strongly thanks to the Expo Milano 2015. The Expo event counted more than 21 million visitors and it attracted many international arrivals, especially during the summer months.
- Moscow saw arrivals slump due to worsening ties with the EU, economic sanctions and a slump in the rouble.
• The biggest news story coming out of North America has been the election of Donald Trump. Whether, and how, this will impact arrivals to the US (and possibly Canada as a substitute destination for travellers from across the Atlantic) will become evident from the 2016 and 2017 arrival numbers.
• While the top Mexican cities performed weakly in 2015, Mexican tourism overall is booming. The drop in the top cities is due to the fact that other cities have been heavily promoted to both business and leisure tourists. Cancún, for example, is losing some visitors to nearby Playa del Carmen, which has a more laidback reputation.
• While Rio de Janeiro was the fastest growing city in last year’s ranking (mainly due to the 2014 World Cup), in 2015 the city has dropped out of the ranking again due to a 28% fall in international arrivals. The city might bounce back in 2016 with the Olympic Games, which despite Zika and issues around the organisation of the event was generally seen as a success.
Asia & Australia
- Next to a strong performance for Bangkok, other Thai cities also performed well. Chiang Mai, in particular, performed well due to its proximity to the Chinese, Myanmar and Laos borders.
- Japanese cities saw even more impressive growth than their Thai counterparts. Tokyo rose six places to rank 17th, and Osaka and Kyoto jumped 27 and 11 places respectively. These cities benefit from the popular Golden Route, which sees overseas tourists arrive in Tokyo, and travel to Kyoto and Osaka via Mount Fuji.
- International arrivals to Seoul fell in 2015 due to the spread of MERS, with arrivals particularly impacted from June to August, as the number of people affected by MERS rose rapidly.
- Macau also registered falling arrivals after years of strong growth. In 2015, arrivals declined as the Chinese authorities cracked down on corruption and illegal activity on the gambling tables that the city is famous for.
Middle East & Africa
- The October 2015 bombing involving a Russian plane stopped tourism to Egypt in its tracks. Sharmel Sheikh, the departure city of the aircraft’s fatal flight, saw the most significant effects of tour operators axing flights to the city.
- Tunisia also fell on hard times with multiple terrorist attacks, including the shooting on the beach of a resort in Sousse in June 2015. Jerba is the only Tunisian city in the Top 100 ranking, but all cities in the country registered double-digit declines, with Sousse experiencing a decline of 61% compared to 2014.
- Mecca in Saudi Arabia was the strongest performer in the region, as 2015 saw strong growth in the number of religious tourists flocking to the city. To benefit from these visitors, the Saudi government has launched the Post-Umrah Programme, an initiative that allows pilgrims to convert their Umrah visas into tourist visas, in the hope that religious visitors will extend their stays in the country.
Source: ‘Top 100 City Destinations Ranking’, Euromonitor International
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