Tourism Trends for Europe



Table of Contents


  1. Demographics
  2. Emerging Incoming Markets
  3. The influence of time-availability on tourism
  4. A demand for health tourism products and spa services for wellness
  5. And the young seek ACTION!
  6. The consequences of these trends
  7. Consequences of globalization for the tourism sector
  8. Consumer Trends




1. Demographics 


  • In Europe older age groups will continue to grow in size in the short to medium term. People are also likely to become more active in their retirement as life expectancy and health improve. The 50s and 60s, rather than the 40s, come to be perceived as middle age.

  • The youth market (16-35 age group), which accounts for over 20% of global tourism, should not be forgotten.

  • Incomes are rising among the young.

  • Family structure has changed too, moving away from the traditional two parents and two children.

  • Thanks to globalization, many families have moved from their original home to other countries, a development which especially affects the levels of VFR (visits to friends & relatives) movement. My Japanese wife (with whom I am living in Aachen, Germany) does twice a year visit her family in Japan and her Japanese family is regularly visiting us in Europe.



2. Emerging Incoming Markets: China, India and Russia


  • Emerging Incoming Markets are the new markets who are interested in travelling to Europe.

  • In emerging Incoming Markets such as China, India and Russia, short term growth is likely to come in the first place from the older segments of these markets. In the longer term, as the economies improve, it will be the younger segments that grow.


3. The influence of time-availability on tourism


  • There is likely to be an increasing division between time-rich and money-rich markets for tourism. Globally leisure time appears to be growing, but for key groups, particularly the wealthy, it is becoming more pressured. While senior people have more leisure time, working people have less.

  • In Europe, pressures on leisure time are likely to lead to more, but shorter trips.

  • Time poverty (a sense of not having enough time to do what you want) causes people to simplify their lives by buying all-inclusive events.

  • A growing trend towards ‘sabbatical’ holidays, which can become ‘trips of a lifetime’. Such trips often feature personal challenge of self development.

  • The lack of time for creative development in many people’s lives will lead to an increase in ‘creative tourism’.


 4. A demand for health tourism products and spa services for wellness


  • The ageing population and an increasing concern for health are likely to drive a growth in demand for health tourism products and spa services. There should also be growing interest in cultural tourism and specially designed programmes for the older traveler.

  • Demand for well-being, health & fitness and stress management products is growing in the developed economies. There will also be increasing demand for spiritual products based on inner experiences. Concern with spiritual health will link into the current boom in health and spa products, and new markets are also likely to emerge. Health products will also increasingly be added to other tourism and leisure products and accommodation operations (e.g. hotels) will develop more combined products in the area of health and creative tourism.

  • Wellness is about feeling fit, having energy, and having moderate weight. A small town in the utmost south of the Netherlands, Valkenburg aan de Geul, follows this trend with the project Global Wellness Valkenburg.


5. And the young seek ACTION!


  • On the other hand, the ‘youth’ market will seek more active holiday products, particularly various forms of ‘adventure’ tourism.


6. The consequences of these trends


  • These general trends are, in turn, likely to lead to increasing demand for independent holidays, with a relative fall in demand for traditional package holidays. Individualized luxury destinations are also likely to develop further.

  • There will be changes in tourism flows, increases in trips outside the summer season, and growing popularity of summer destinations during the traditional winter period can be anticipated.

7. Consequences of globalization for the tourism sector


  • More competition between suppliers of tourism services (e.g. hotels). Tourists will be looking for more economical travel experiences. They will increasingly be able to find cheap tourism products over the Internet and tourism companies will be able to trade more freely across international borders.

  • Rising economies (e.g. China, India, and Eastern Europe) will create new tourism destinations, often seeking to use tourism promotion to strengthen their identities for political and economic purposes. At the same time, these rising economies will also create new tourism source markets.

  • There is a need for Europe to strengthen its destination marketing and make it more cohesive (especially in the marketing of cross-border areas like the German, Dutch and Belgian area Euregio Maas/Rhine). Europe will also have to develop new tourism products, or re-present traditional products specifically aimed at the emerging source markets.

  • Younger people’s values and travel expectations will be influenced by the growth in globalization. Central to satisfying these expectations will be the need to ensure that the information and accommodation provided are of the right quality and are accessible through all the latest internet/communication channels.

  • Growing mobility will affect tourism labour markets, as a higher proportion of jobs are filled by foreign labour. In the short term this will help to ease the tight tourism labour market in key destinations, but in the long term it will pose problems for the cultural ‘authenticity’ of the services provided.

  • There will be an increasing need for branding in order to identify international operators that can be trusted. An example is the branding of the region Southern Limburg, The Netherlands.


8. Consumer Trends


  • Travel Experience: As tourism develops, so there seems to be a shift towards the desire for self-development and creative expression. Tourists are more and more looking for deeper experiences within the communities they visit. This is also changing the relationship between host and guest. People are seeking genuine experiences rather than staged ones.

  • For many people, travel is no longer a luxury and has become an accepted part of life. This means that last-minute-decision-making, especially for short trips, will become the standard.

  • The freedom to travel will be extended by the trend towards older parenting and the growth in single-person households. This trend is already pushing the upper age limit of the ‘youth’ market from 30 to 35.



Parts of this article are adapted from:


European Travel Commission- Tourism Trends for Europe



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© 2008 PAM
Author: Jeroen Kratsborn

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