By Ben Barlow, freelance finance writer
While the impact of political and economic upheaval didn’t have much effect on tourism in the region last year, it may well do in the coming months ahead.
The EU experienced a tumultuous year in 2016, with political shocks and uncertainty commonplace across many of its member nations.
From being a relatively stable political and economic union, cracks started to appear and many industries and businesses across the region were affected in a number of different ways.
Tourism is of incredible importance to the EU as a whole and for many of its individual member nations. This is what EU tourism can expect in 2017.
For American travellers especially, visiting the EU this year is incredibly advantageous thanks to the strength of the US dollar. Many destinations are now cheap to visit, making it the perfect time to visit all sorts of different countries.
Given their recent financial troubles, Greece and many of its islands including Crete and Rhodes are now more affordable than ever to visit. Portugal offers many cheap travel destinations outside of the Algarve and its famous beaches, along with popular Spanish cities and resorts including Barcelona and more.
Budget holidays to lesser-visited nations such as Albania, Bulgaria and more are expected to rise in 2017 too.
With the pound falling to record levels and staying low despite a minor recovery, it has made the UK cheaper to visit for many overseas tourists
From slow travel to wildlife trips, there are always travel trends each year that provide a boost to specific areas of tourism. This year micro-distillery tours are one of the in things, taking over from wine tours.
The EU is home to many countries with proud brewing traditions, such as the Czech Republic, Germany and more which can expect more tourists. Bikepacking, travel photography and sustainable travel are all on the rise and can be done across the EU as well.
Brexit will have a big impact on tourism, though in 2016 spending by overseas tourists actually fell from £5.6 billion to £5.4 billion for July to September compared to the year before. The actual numbers of visitors did increase though and it could have been that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit put some tourists off.
With the pound falling to record levels and staying low despite a minor recovery, it has made the UK cheaper to visit for many overseas tourists. Much of the increase was down to more North American tourists visiting and spending increasing.
The value of the euro is incredibly important in enticing tourists to the EU, especially as tourists will look for cheap international money transfer options when planning their holidays. The euro has been weak against the US dollar recently, making it an appealing destination for many American tourists.
There are a number of factors which could further impact the euro’s value in the coming months, including elections in France, Germany and The Netherlands, Brexit and Trump’s first months of presidency. If the euro falls then tourism could increase.
The EU relies a lot on European tourism as well as American, with the free movement of people and other policies vital for the industry to succeed.
The weaker pound did little to attract more European visitors to the UK in 2016, with spending down as well, which could be a worry for the EU’s tourism industry.
EU tourism looks like it should remain strong in 2017, but these factors and events could lead to a different outcome.
About the blogger
Ben Barlow is a freelance finance writer specialising in stocks and shares, forex and ISAs.
After studying business at Lancaster University, Ben worked at a number of financial institutions in London and New York and is now following his passion for writing.