Travelers to Europe

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Drivers: American Travelers to Europe

Three key drivers for Americans traveling to Europe are more direct flights, rising popularity of "new" destinations and the growth in rail travel's popularity.

Airlines Offering More Direct Flights

  • One factor driving more Americans than ever visiting Europe is the sheer availability of flights. Several US-based airlines opened direct European routes last year, such as Newark to Naples, Tampa to Amsterdam and Chicago to Athens.
  • 2020 is predicted to see even more routes added, especially to less-common cities or ones that had not seen direct flights for a long time. For example, United will open a Newark to Palermo seasonal route, the only direct from the US to the island, and American will add several cities like Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Reykjavik, Casablanca and Tel Aviv this summer.
  • Even 'budget' carriers like Norwegian have picked up on the trend, making direct flights cheaper and more accessible than ever. In addition to the routes they already offer, the airline is adding Chicago to Paris, Chicago to Rome and Denver to Rome to its offering this summer.
  • Furthermore, while the UK was to be excluded from this research, it does actually have a hand in driving European traveler growth. As British Airways is adding many more UK-Europe routes, American travelers can now access more connection options (starting with a BA flight from North American to Heathrow, then onto Europe) without having to change airlines or worry about re-checking luggage during a connection.
  • As finances are the number one reason Americans choose not to travel, direct flights drive down the cost of going to Europe.

Growth in "New" Destinations

  • As flight offerings expand, so does interest in international travelers in previously less-traditional destinations. US travelers to Greece are expected to grow 47.4%, 36.8% in Turkey and 32.7% in Cyprus.
  • These destinations represent a diversification in interest in US travelers, as more look for "unique and off-the-beaten path destinations".
  • Some of this is due to a growing awareness that "new" places in Europe still offer what an American might want in a vacation, such as beaches (Greece and Croatia), nightlife (Greece) or sports (the Netherlands).

Rail Travel is Trending

  • As Americans traveling abroad are increasingly wanting to visit more than one destination (Forbes are calling this "country coupling"), but there is also a rising awareness about climate change, rail travel has emerged as a growing force in European tourism.
  • North American travel agents are seeing an increasing interest in traveling by train. They are advising agents to showcase the benefits of rail, as many Americans may not have thought of it.
  • Millennials are especially driven to seek out companies that support sustainable tourism.
  • Rail travel hits about several key travel trends at the moment: sustainable tourism, overtourism (trains can access smaller, more intimate locations), authentic experiences (connect with locals and the landscape), slow relaxed travel and personalization (easier to create unique itineraries). Additionally, Americans have started visiting Europe on shorter trips, making train travel more appealing.
  • Additionally, while rail travel among tourists actually used to be quite popular, fare restructuring had led to them being less appealing to visitors. Just last year, the passes were changed again, simplifying their options and making them easier (and more affordable) to shop for.

Destinations Different for the Generations

  • According to Squaremouth, the generations have different destination preferences within Europe. Spain has seen Gen Zers flocking to it at a 54% increase over the previous year. The Netherlands is popular with millennials, Switzerland and Germany are seeing more Gen Xers than ever before, and finally Greece is highly preferred among baby boomers.
  • Millennials are reportedly 'bored' with traditional destinations or vacations. They increasingly seek out "authentic travel" and enjoy using the sharing economy to stay and learn while overseas.
  • Millennials, compared to older generations, are most likely to try new places to visit each year.
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Drivers: Russian Travelers to Europe

Three drivers for growth in Russian tourists visiting Europe are currency stabilization, location popularity and the effects of the wider growth of the Russian online travel industry (digital travel sales).

Stabilization of the Ruble

  • Russian tourism has been steadily increasing since early 2017, generally accredited to the stabilization of the ruble. The reverse can be seen in 2015, when Russian tourism to Europe dropped by almost half due to currency issues.
  • With increased purchasing power, Russian spending abroad has grown.
  • Compared to other tourists, Russian tourists to Europe tend to spend less, meaning that cost is more important to them. This means currency fluctuations have a greater impact on Russian tourists.
  • Additionally, because Russians take longer than average vacations, cost and value remain an important factor influencing their decision to visit Europe.


  • Russians are far less likely to visit long-haul destinations, meaning that Europe is a perennial favorite destination.
  • Turkey is number one most-visited country for Russian tourists. The country saw a big surge in Russian tourism after the country "re-opened" following terrorist incidences. This means Turkey alone is a huge driver in overall European tourism, as it received almost 2.3 million Russian tourists just in the first half of 2018.
  • Finland is also extremely popular. Both destinations can reached by relatively short (and cheap) flights.

Growth in Online Travel Industry

  • eTravel, in Russia, has grown significantly, about 20% year-on-year. More tourists than ever are interested in, and booking their trips, online.
  • Popular tour aggregators also showed significant growth. Level Travel doubled in size between 2017 and 2018. 80% of Travelata's customers book an international trip.
  • Predictions are that digital travel sales will continue to grow, albeit at a more modest pace. eMarketer thinks the market will see 12% growth in 2020, reaching $14.45 billion.
  • This broader trend growth directly contributes to the ability and availability of travel to Europe.
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Drivers: Chinese Travelers to Europe

Three key drivers for Chinese travelers to Europe are the region's relatively favorable visa policies, favorable exchange rates and new/increasing flight routes.

Relatively Favorable Visa Policies

  • Europe's relatively favorable visa policies for Chinese travelers were identified as a key driver of Chinese tourists to the region based on the 2019 China Tourism Academy report as well as the 2019 HCG Travel Group’s Chinese Tourism to Europe report.
  • Specifically, a major conclusion of these reports was that Europe's visa policies are a motivating factor for many Chinese residents to travel to the area, and that this factor has recently helped "boost travel to Europe."
  • According to a 2019 analysis by the European Travel Commission, visas are generally viewed as a "formal constraint by travelers" from China, because they involve additional monetary costs and/or indirect costs (e.g., time spent waiting, complexity of travel process).
  • While the current China to Europe visa process is somewhat arduous, Jing Travel asserts that Europe's relatively favorable format, when compared with travel destinations such as the US, is "pushing Chinese tourists to Europe."
  • Overall, the European Travel Commission estimates that Chinese travel to the EU will grow by 7.4% between 2018 and 2023, due largely to the region's favorable visa policies.
  • Moreover, the organization asserts that further improvements to European visa policies could boost Chinese tourism to the region by between 17% and 71% over the same period.

Favorable Exchange Rates

  • Favorable exchange rates was similarly selected as a major driver for Chinese travel to Europe based on the fact the numerous industry experts (e.g., Jing Daily, World Travel Online, Dragon Travel Interactive) highlighted European currency depreciation as key motivation for Chinese tourism in the area.
  • Specifically for 2018, Jing Daily highlighted the fact that Chinese tourism to Norway and Iceland grew by 84% and 60%, respectively, in parallel with significant currency depreciation against the yuan of between 5.03% to 9.55%.
  • Similarly in 2019, the HCG Travel Group’s Chinese Tourism to Europe report highlighted that substantial drops in exchange rates for Iceland, Norway, Hungary and Sweden made these European locations the "most cost-effective" and attractive destinations for Chinese travelers.
  • Overall, these relative currency depreciations enable Chinese travelers to buy more for their money in Europe.
  • Combined with the fact that the currencies of other attractive destinations such as the US are appreciating against the yuan, Chinese tourists are increasingly motivated to travel to Europe for such financial benefits.

New/Increased Flight Routes

  • Notably, ten additional long-haul routes between China and Europe were launched in the first half of 2018, a total of 30 additional routes were launched by the end of 2018 and seven new flight routes were launched between the regions during the first half of 2019.
  • According to the European Travel Commission, these new flight paths were a key driver behind the 5.1% increase in Chinese arrivals to Europe in 2018.
  • Moreover, the three new direct flights to Rome and two new direct flights to Budapest in 2019 were accompanied by a 16% increase in Chinese tourism to Italy and a 4.89% increase in relevant travel to Hungary.
  • Overall, eTurboNews asserts that the increasing prevalence of new and direct routes between China and Europe is driving related travel because the regions are increasingly "interconnected," allowing residents to more easily between the regions.
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Regions of Interest: American Travelers to Europe

A review of the most-visited countries (and cities) by American tourists for 2017, 2018, and 2019 (discounting all of the UK) shows strong similarities in the destinations of choice. Among the top choices are Arles, Paris, and Nice in France; Rome, Florence, the Amalfi Coast, Vienna, Lake Como, and Sienna in Italy; and Berlin and Munich in Germany.

FRANCE Arles, Paris, Nice

  • In 2017, 2.6 M Americans visited France, earning it the number five favorite spot for American tourists. In 2018, France ranked number 12 on the top list for American destinations as noted by US News, and it moved to the number 10 spot in 2019. In 2019, France ranked 7-of-10 of places most-commonly visited by American tourists, according to Survey Monkey.
  • In 2018, Arles and Paris were ranked as two top French destination cities for American tourists by Access Development. US News ranked Paris as their number three European destination for American travelers, while Nice took the number 14 spot. Travel & Leisure ranked Paris as number 13 on their top destinations for American international travelers.
  • Paris’ extensive array of monuments, museums, and churches are big highlights for American tourists, along with the iconic Eiffel Tower and a must-see trip to the Louvre. Nice offers lodging, dining, and traveling along the French Riviera, stunning scenery and views like the Garden of Cimiez Monastery, as well as a vibrant nightlife.
  • Tourists who seek interesting or thrilling cuisines, and those identifying as “foodies” were among those noting France as their top destination. French cuisine earned a score of 90.5 on US News’ rankings of top attributes of the destination. Additionally, sports fans found France to be a popular destination.

ITALY Rome, Florence, Amalfi Coast, Vienna, Lake Como, Sienna

  • In 2017, 2.3 M Americans visited Italy, earning it the number six favorite spot for American tourists. In 2019, Italy ranked 3-of-10 of places most-commonly visited by American tourists, according to Survey Monkey. Among high-end US travelers, Italy ranks at the top for most-popular destinations in 2019.
  • On US News’ list of top European travel destinations for Americans (based on user votes, expert opinions, and other statistics about the destination), Rome took the number one spot, while Florence weighed in at number four, the Amalfi Coast took the number nine position, and Venice came in at number 10 in the top 10. Vienna held a near-top spot (at number 13), and Lake Como ranked number 17.
  • Travel & Leisure ranked Sienna as number seven on their top destinations for American international travelers, while Rome came in at a solid second place, and Florence took the top position. Interestingly, Florence has held the top spot for several years in this poll.
  • Of those ranking Italy among their top destination choices, most stated they loved the country for the “arts and culture” it offered. US News touts Italy as “ideal” for American tourists, noting that the country features much classical artworks and architecture, offers destinations like the “fashion houses of Milan,” and provides myriad cultural influences spread throughout the country. They also note that tourists enjoy the “remnants of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman civilization” running throughout the peninsula.
  • Rome offers tourists amazing historical sites like the Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, and St. Peter’s Basilica, while Florence features popular attractions like the Galleria of dell-Accademia where Michaelangelo’s David stands for all to admire. The Amalfi Coast offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea throughout its collection of cliffside villages, the waterfalls at Marmorata, and the Emerald Grotto, while in Venice, Americans can enjoy gondola rides along the Grand Canal, travel across the “famous Rialto Bridge, or snap a photo in front of the iconic Bridge of Sighs,” among other travel treats.
  • Similar to France, American tourists also loved the food, so it remains a popular destination for foodies. In fact, experts state that “the country’s regional cuisines inspire chefs worldwide.”

GERMANY Berlin, Munich

  • In 2017, 2.2 M Americans visited Germany, earning it the number seven favorite spot for American tourists. In both 2018 and 2019, Germany took the number four spot in US News’ rankings of top American international destinations.
  • As favorite city-destinations, Berlin took the number 19 spot on US News top American international destinations-of-choice, while Munich ranked in at number twenty.
  • Germany’s culture and rich heritage brings joy to many American tourists each year. One notable favorite for tourists is the annual Oktoberfest, a long-running folk festival with events all month.
  • Berlin offers tourists sights like the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall, Holocaust Memorial museums, and a collection of other historical must-sees. Although it’s the “most-expensive city in Germany,” the experience the city offers with streetside cafes selling beer and bratwurst, and street performers and vendors galore are tops on American tourists’ lists for their vacations.

Notable American Int'l Traveler Statistics

  • Travel Leaders Group states that just under a quarter (24%) of Americans have traveled or plan to travel to Europe. In 2017, the US held the number two spot for countries with outbound travelers (behind China), with Americans spending over $135 B on trips and traveling overseas; this represented a 9% increase in spending from 2016.
  • Traveling and tourism ranked as the “second-most-popular choice for discretionary spending,” with 36% of American travelers rating it as an “important spending priority.” The average trip abroad for an American costs over $6000, with lodging making up 21% and food/beverages taking an additional 16% on average. Transportation takes up an additional 54.3% of most Americans’ international trip budgets.
  • Notably, most Americans are overworked and under-vacationed, with issues related to finances/costs being the biggest reason Americans didn’t take vacations, or that those vacations were close-to-home (rather than international), or that they were scaled down to affordable levels. This is especially true for Millennials, with nearly half (47%) citing cost as a barrier to traveling or taking vacations.
  • Most Americans vacation with family (39%) or take trips with their significant other / spouse / partner (33%). Interestingly, 12% of Americans prefer to fly solo on their trips.
  • According to Survey Monkey, 28% of Americans ranked “chilling on a beach” as their top destination-of-choice for vacations, including international jaunts, while 25% said the best vacation included “exploring arts and culture.” A full 16% prefer “doing something outdoorsy” on their vacations, while 13% preferred to go on “food and wine tour[s].” Notably, only 4% of Americans state they take “partying and nightlife”-focused vacations.
  • Trip Advisor reports that 57% of international travelers enjoy beach vacations abroad, 56% choose destination cities that offer rich history and heritage to explore, 52% opt to take to vacations with (or to see) family and friends, and 26% use their international vacations to attend events or festivals.
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) of American families has taken multi-day international trips with their children. This is not surprising considering that 80% of American families take summer vacations, and 42% take a trip for Spring Break. Over three-quarters (79%) of Americans “would consider taking a long distance international trip during winter.”
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Regions of Interest: Russian Travelers to Europe

Three of the top regions in Europe that are of the most interest to Russian travelers are Antalya in Turkey, Helsinki in Finland, and Monaco.

1. Antalya — Turkey

  • According to the 2018 report of the Russian State Statistics Service Rosstat, 2,281,000 Russian travelers went to Turkey that year.
  • This was the largest destination country by Russians in Europe and the world.
  • The province of Antalya is one of the most visited by them and expects a 15% increase in Russian visitors in 2020 or more than 6 million people.
  • The place is a favorite due to its proximity to Russia, resort vacationing options, and it also allows them to pay in Russian rubles.
  • They even have an agreement of tourism with Turkey establishing that they can also pay with Turkey's currency, the lira, when visiting Russia.
  • Russians also have special discounts in the entire country in shops hotels, restaurants, and transport free WiFi, public transport, airport transfer, car rental, etc.

2. Helsinki — Finland

  • The second European country of choice by Russian travelers in 2018 was Finland, which received 1,559,000 citizens of that country.
  • In 2019, the number of Russian visitors in Finland increased by 18%, over 790,000 visas were granted to enter the country, and most of them were to residents of St. Petersburg.
  • The main reasons why Russians favor this destination include its acceptance of the ruble, the expansion of the services that Finland offers to Russian tourists, new attractions, and the media advertising in Russia that Finland was named the happiest country in the world for the second time.
  • Two attractions that opened in Helsinki last year and that attracted more Russian visitors were the Oodi Library, which is considered the best library in the world, and the Amos Rex Museum of Modern Art.

3. Schengen Region — Monaco

  • In 2018, the Schengen region was one of the most visited by Russian tourists, receiving 498,000 Russians and increasing the number of visitors from this country by 20% in comparison with the previous year.
  • The Schengen region includes Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.
  • In 2019, Russians booked 51,491 nights in Monaco hotels, mainly coming from Uzbekistan.
  • Business tourism represented 16% of the travels from Russians, who booked 26,105 nights for medical tourism, and 24,000 nights for information technology travel.
  • This micro-country of 2 km is an attraction, especially to wealthy tourists, for its climate, beautiful beach, Monte-Carlo's Place du Casino, famous Grand Prix, its tax regime, and proximity to the Cote d'Azur, the Alpes Maritimes, and the Mediterranean.
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Regions of Interest: Chinese Travelers to Europe

The top three cities for Chinese tourism in Europe are Moscow, France, and Rome. Complete details about the research findings and approach are presented below.

Moscow, Russia

  • Moscow, Russia was one of the top cities visited by Chinese tourists to Europe in 2018 and Russia was one of the top countries visited in 2019. Based on its placement on both lists, it appears that Moscow might be a top-3 city for Chinese travelers.
  • Moscow receives many Chinese tourists due to its group bookings. This is bolstered by Russia having waived visas “for Chinese tourists traveling with an official guide in groups of three to 50 people.”
  • Russia hosted 1.7M Chinese tourists in 2018 and they accounted for ~30% of Russia’s total tourism.
  • Moscow’s Red Square is a popular Chinese tourist attraction. St. Petersburg (Hermitage Museum, Winter Palace) is also a popular destination.
  • There have been so many Chinese visitors to Russian culture destinations (likely following suit due to China’s president Xi Jinping being a very welcomed guest at the Kremlin) that Russia’s deputy of culture minister proposed to introduce specific days that foreigners could visit popular Russian sites, “arguing that huge groups of Chinese tourists were preventing ordinary Russians from enjoying their cultural heritage.”
  • Note that even with entry bans, due to the coronavirus, Russia is allowing in Chinese nationals and those with business visas.

Rome, Italy

  • According to Hotel & Tourism Online, in the first half of 2019, three cities in China opened direct flight routes to Rome, Italy (Shenzhen, Hangzhou, and Chengdu). Direct flights were listed as one of the three main factors that propel tourism growth from China to European countries.
  • Further evidence that Rome may be a top city for Chinese visitors is that in February the “Italian government considered allocating assistance to hard-hit tour operators” who were making significantly less money due to drops in Chinese tourism brought on by the coronavirus.
  • Italy and China had a yearlong partnership program that was expected to triple Chinese visitors before the virus hit.
  • The Vatican Museums are a popular destination for Chinese travelers to Rome.

Paris, France

  • Paris, France is noted to be one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists and has evidence from a New York Times news report about the drops in tourism due to the coronavirus quarantines. The news reported on a marked drop in tourism and a growing economic impact on “one of the favorite shopping destinations of Chinese tourists to France.”
  • Chinese visitors to The Louvre Museum in Paris were second only to Americans in 2019. They also frequent Paris for luxury boutiques in order to avoid knockoffs.
  • Paris is also a popular city for Chinese group tours, which are a major draw for Chinese tourists due to language and cultural barriers.
  • About 800,000 Chinese tourists visit Paris each year. The second favorite city in France for Chinese tourists is Dijon. Another popular attraction for Chinese tourists is the Palace of Versailles.

Honorable Mentions

  • Additional new direct flight routes recently opened from China include Budapest (Hungary; due to drops in exchange rates), Dublin (Ireland), Oslo (Norway; due to drops in exchange rates), and Vienna (Austria).
  • In Germany, popular cities for Chinese tourists include Munich, Heidelberg, and Füssen (fairy tale castle of Neuschwanstein).
  • In Austria, popular cites include the salt-mining town of Hallstatt. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Chinese visitors tend to visit the town during the warmer months.

Reasons for Travel

  • Eastern European countries may have seen more Chinese travelers recently due to participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Favorable policies related to visas, flights, exchange rates, and consumer services added to Chinese tourism to Europe in 2019. For example, Serbia has a visa-free policy.
  • Big drops in exchange rates made visits to Iceland, Norway, Hungary, Sweden, Russia, and the UK the most cost-effective for Chinese travelers.
  • Three main factors propelling growth from China to European countries include “visa convenience, direct flights, and the friendliness shown by the host peoples towards Chinese tourists.”


  • More Chinese women (62.9%) than men (37.1%) visited Europe in the first half of 2019.
  • The majority of visitors were in their 50s and 60s (a little over 50%) and 12.7% were over 70 years old.
  • About 60% of Chinese visitors to Croatia in 2018 were women. Travel to Croatia was up 540% year-on-year in the first half of 2019.
  • In 2018, Chinese tourists that signed up for package tours in Europe spent an average of 1,500 euros per person (an increase of 15%).

Additional Insights

  • In 2018, the top European cities for Chinese tourists were Paris, Rome, Prague, Moscow, Interlaken, Vienna, Florence, Venice, Budapest, and Barcelona.
  • The most popular attractions for Chinese visitors to European cities in 2018 included Sagrada Familia (Barcelona), Louvre (Paris), Windsor Castle (Windsor), Winter Palace (Saint Petersburg), London Eye (London), Eiffel Tower (Paris), Interlaken Jungfrau (Interlaken), Versailles Palace (Paris), Royal Palace of Madrid, Vatican Museums.
  • Theft is a major concern for Chinese travelers when they visit European countries.
  • The tourism industry is seeing more personalized, small, comfortable choice-based group tours for Chinese travelers more than low-quality, low-cost, forced consumption-style tours. Group tours are preferred due to cultural and language barriers as well as other factors. Group tours were the most popular choice for Chinese visitors to Europe in the first half of 2019. Tailor-made group packages rose by 315%.
  • Because customized group tours are a popular and rising trend for Chinese travelers to Europe, reviewing the top 10 customized travel destinations might add to an understanding of which regions in European countries attract the most Chinese visitors. According to ChinaDaily, the top cities for group bookings might include London, England; Venice, Italy; Paris, France; Moscow, Russia; Athens, Greece; Requena, Spain; Munich, Germany; Central Switzerland (Lucerne); Prague, Czech Republic; and Innsbruck, Austria.
  • The fastest growth of Chinese travelers was seen in Croatia, Latvia (523%), Slovenia (497%), Bulgaria (459%), and Estonia (321%).
  • 36.3% of the 6 million Chinese tourists that visited Europe visited Eastern Europe. 32.8% visited Western Europe; Northern and Southern Europe received 16.6% and 14.2% of the visits, respectively.
  • The most frequently visited countries during the first half of 2019 were Russia, Italy, France, the UK, and Germany.

Research Strategy

During the research, it should be noted that the team found ranking the top cities difficult because visa-policies are country-specific and tourists often visit several places within each country. For instance, Germany is a popular country with Munich, Heidelberg, and Füssen as very popular destinations for Chinese tourists. Also, some sources noted that Chinese visitors might spread across the European continent via group tours. For instance, the France-Italy-Switzerland tour was a top favorite for Chinese tourists. Despite these acknowledged challenges, the team obtained the top three destinations (not ranked) by Chinese tourists to Europe by reviewing and analyzing news articles and annual travel industry reports for relevant findings (i.e., comparative 2018 and 2019 data analysis).
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Spending: American Travelers to Europe

From 2000 to 2018, there has been a steady increase in spending by American travelers in Europe. The total travel and tourism imports by American travelers in 2000 was $39.101 billion. In 2015, it reached $53.102 billion; and in 2018, Americans spent a total of $70.256 billion in the continent. However, even after exhaustive research, travel spending habits, specifically the spending on travel retail categories, of Americans who travel to Europe could not be located. Relevant findings have been added below.

American Travelers Spending in Europe

  • In 2017, American travelers spent a total of $63.925 billion in Europe. (The downloadable document can be found here. A copy of the document has been made in a Google spreadsheet for easy reference.)
  • Of the total American spending in Europe in 2017, $4.743 billion was spent on education-related expenses, $42.016 billion was spent on personal travel and other non-education related businesses, and $16.483 billion was spent on passenger air transportation.
  • In 2018, the mean average of household income of American travelers to Europe was $140,934, and the median average was $105,000.

Relevant Findings

Purpose of Traveling to Europe

  • For Americans who only have one purpose of traveling to Europe, vacation or holiday is the leading reason (61.6%), followed by visiting friends and relatives (20.9%), business (7.8%), education (4.5%), convention/conference/trade show (3.1%), religion/pilgrimage (1.3%), other (0.6%), and health treatment (0.3%).
  • The same trend can be seen for Americans who have multiple purposes of traveling to Europe. The majority of them travel to Europe for a vacation or holiday (72.7%), followed by visiting friends and relatives (31.7%), business (9.3%), education (7.7%), convention/conference/trade show (4.2%), religion/pilgrimage (2.5%), other (1.0%), and health treatment (0.6%).

Information Sources Used for Trip Planning to Europe

  • In 2018, Americans used the following information sources in planning their trips to Europe: airline (52.9%), online travel agency (32.5%), personal recommendation (23.6%), travel agency office (13.0%), tour operator/travel club (12.1%), travel guides (10.0%), corporate travel department (8.2%), other (5.2%), and national/state/city travel office (3.5%).

Top Activities Americans Participated in while in Europe

  • American travelers have participated in one or more of the following activities while in Europe: (89.4%), shopping (78.0%), small towns/countryside (57.4%), historical locations (61.2%), art galleries/museums (58.1%), guided tours (48.9%), experience fine dining (44.1%), cultural/ethnic heritage sites (43.6%), national parks/monuments (38.2%), nightclubbing (19.0%), and concert/play/musical (17.4%).

General Statistics on American Travelers

  • At 36 percent, travel is the second most popular choice for spending disposable income among Americans. The first choice is nightlife or dining.
  • On average, Americans spend $6,080 on international trips.
  • Americans consider price as the number one factor in booking travel. Reviews and amenities come in as runners-up.
  • US outbound tourists spend an average of $689.40 on roundtrip transportation (excluding rental cars), $333.10 on tours and activities, $213.90 on lodging per person per night, and $117.50 on rental cars.
  • When shopping overseas, US outbound tourists use a credit card (56%), cash exchanged in advance (18%), cash withdrawn via credit card (11%), a debit card (9%), and cash withdrawn via debit card (7%).
  • When traveling abroad, 78% of Americans prefer to book upper-scale accommodation, 45% prefer luxury, and 45% opt for mid-scale.
  • Thirty-nine percent of US travelers have stayed at a home share property, such as Airbnb and VRBO, while traveling abroad.

Research Strategy

To determine the travel spending habits, specifically spending on travel retail categories, of Americans who travel to Europe, we started our research by looking into reports by several national tourism agencies in the US and Europe. However, the information we found using this strategy focused on very broad criteria on spending, such as business, personal, and education-related, not on travel retail category. Next, we looked into reports published by credible private agencies, such as private tourism organizations. However, again, none of the reports we found focused on spending on travel retail categories. The information presented by these organizations was about the general information about American tourists, such as demographics, the purpose of travel, and sources used when planning their trip to Europe, among others. Lastly, we scanned news articles for any mention of the spending of American travelers in Europe or shopping statistics of American tourists in the continent in the hope that some of these articles would contain information on how much Americans spend on retail goods while in Europe. However, the information we found using this strategy was also about the general information about American tourists, and not on spending on travel retail categories. Nevertheless, we added relevant information we found in our findings above.
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Spending: Russian Travelers to Europe

The spending of Russian travelers to Europe has increased significantly since the country's economic crisis. Notably, the large majority of Russia's tax-free retail expenditures currently happen in Europe, and are largely driven by purchases of fashion goods.

Retail Spending

  • A 2019 report by Global Blue indicates that fashion is the top retail spending category for Russian tourists in Europe, at 53% of purchases.
  • Well behind fashion, the next top retail categories for travelers from Russia are leather goods (14%) and watches & jewelry (9%).
  • Notably, retail spending by Russian travelers is strong and growing across all types of retail, including entry-level luxury purchases of under €750 (up 7%), mid-level purchases €750-2000 (up 16%), high-level purchases of €2000-5000 (up 17%), and top-tier purchases over €5000 (up 14%).
  • Additionally, retail spending volume is fairly evenly spread across three Russian traveler profiles in Europe, with the elite 1% of tourists representing 17% of sales, the somewhat frequent 30% of travelers representing 36% of sales and the less frequent 69% of tourists representing 47% of sales.
  • Meanwhile, the top five retail destinations by share of spend for Russians in Europe are Italy (34%), Germany (16%), France (11%), Spain (8%) and Finland (6%).
  • Notably, Russian tourist spending in France, Spain and Italy are expected to grow significantly in the near future, by 25%, 21% and 13%, respectively.
  • Overall, Global Blue reports that almost all (98%) of Russian tax-free retail spending happens in Europe, and that Russian travelers represent 7% of Europe's tax-free revenue.

Overall Spending

  • The overall spending of Russian travelers in Europe has changed dramatically over the past five to ten years.
  • Prior to the country's economic crisis, the average Russian tourists' spending in Europe was $1850, however this fell dramatically to only $650 as of 2016.
  • 2017 saw a slight recovery in this total spend to $1090, which rose to $1,676 per person per trip in 2018.
  • According to Global Blue, Russia's overall spending in Europe has been bolstered recently by the more friendly diplomatic environment, as well as due to the stronger ruble against the euro.
  • Specifically, Russian tax-free spending was up 10% year-over-year in 2019, largely due to a strong ruble against the euro.
  • Moreover, Global Blue estimates that Russian spending in Europe will increase by "double digits" in the near future.
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Spending: Chinese Travelers to Europe

Chinese tourists to Europe enjoying shopping more than non-Chinese tourists. While they still prefer to shop in department and luxury stores, there is a predicted decline in retail spending and purchasing of luxury goods abroad (e.g., Europe) in favor of more 'authentic' purchases and experiences.

Chinese Tourists Spend Big

  • According to Nielsen, 38% of Chinese tourists going abroad went to Europe. This represents a 37.6% growth.
  • Chinese tourists tend to prefer natural scenic locations, natural landmarks and theme parks.
  • As disposable income grows, cost is actually only the 5th biggest consideration for Chinese overseas tourists.
  • Chinese overseas tourists spend more money on shopping than accommodation, which is different from non-Chinese tourists. They also like to spend money on dining and more comfortable accommodations.

Shopping Spend Among Chinese Tourists

  • Chinese visitors to Europe spent, on average, $3,754 total at their location (not including transport or tour group fees).
  • In 2017, Chinese tourists spent $762 per person on shopping alone, compared to only $486 among non-Chinese tourists. This means around 20.3% of total spend is on shopping.
  • However, in 2019, this number grew to €868 ($944).
  • In Europe, Chinese tourists prefer luxury stores and department stores.
  • Their top five items purchased are skincare & beauty, local specialties, souvenirs, clothing and food.
  • There is evidence that the luxury goods spend may be declining. Chinese tourists are increasingly seeking out unique experiences, such as boutique hotels, unusual restaurants and interesting local products. This means spending will go towards experiences more than retail.
  • This also follows a shift in more at-home luxury purchases among Chinese consumers, which again spells the decline of Chinese tourism spending on luxury goods.
  • Types of payment accepted is extremely important to Chinese tourists considering where to shop. This is true for all destinations, not just Europe.
  • Chinese tourists prefer to use mobile payments in Europe, primarily because of the favorable exchange rate and familiarity. The use of mobile payments overseas nearly doubled in 2019.

Generational Differences

  • There are some generational differences in how Chinese tourists enjoy their trips to Europe. Enjoying food and shopping is most important to those born after 1980 (older millennials), whereas younger millennials are more likely to want adventure and leisure.
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Factors Impacting Travel: Russian Travelers

Economic factors, security concerns and negative publicity are 3 key factors affecting outbound Russian travelers to Europe. These are outlined below.

Economic Factors

Security and Terrorist Threats

Negative Publicity

  • Ipsos also determined negative publicity as a deterrent to outbound Russian travelers to Europe.
  • 41% of Russian travelers said recent events made them less likely to travel to Turkey compared to 8% who said recent news made them more likely to travel.
  • 33% of Russian travelers said recent news negatively impacted their travel plans to Spain compared to 4% who said recent news had a positive impact.
  • 29% of Russian travelers said recent news negatively impacted their travel plans to Germany compared to 6% who said recent news had a positive impact.
  • Ipsos pointed out that audiences tend to notice bad news more than positive events.
  • The report advised that travel destinations targeting Russian tourists should be active in presenting more positive publicity about their regions.
  • The Russian Tourism Market Report 2019 showed that 98% of surveyed Russians consume media on TV, 81% on smartphones and laptops, and 80% on PCs.
  • The report recommends investing on native advertising to increase the chance of capturing the attention of Russian travelers.
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Factors Impacting Travel: U.S. Travelers

Many Americans cannot afford the time or money it takes to travel internationally, and forego their dream vacations to Europe because of finances or work restrictions. Additionally, the last five years have not been good to the Euro-dollar exchange rate, meaning Americans pay more for those trips to Europe than they might expect. Another major reason many from the US don’t travel to Europe is the fear of getting caught in a terrorist attack. Lastly, two up-and-coming notable factors that have already begun to affect travel rates and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future are the spread of Wuhan’s corona virus and the additional travel authorizations needed for European travel (that begin in 2021).

Lack of Time &/or Money

  • One major inhibitor of international (and domestic) travel is lack of time to travel or go on vacation. Though this does not apply ONLY to trips to Europe, it definitely applies to international travels (which include Europe).
  • Forbes notes that at least 25% of American workers do not get any paid vacation time from their employers. A study by Survey Monkey showed that 61% of Americans take only two (or fewer) weeks of vacation each year, with nearly a third (30%) taking a week or less for annual vacation time. NYU’s research showed that only about half of families with paid vacation time used all of their available days.
  • Forbes’ research shows that a full quarter of Americans “just can’t find the time to travel,” though a full three-quarters wish they had more time to travel than they actually had.
  • Although much of this centers around restrictions based on work, the other major inhibitor is a lack of money. With travel being “prohibitively expensive for most people,” it’s no surprise that “finances were the #1 reasons that people passed up” travel and vacations.
  • US passports cost around $135, making it the “fifth most expensive passport in the world.”
  • Squaremouth reports that Americans spend an average of nearly $6100 on international trips / vacations, though the destination could change that average. For example, the average trip to Norway for American tourists is nearly $10 K. On these international trips, American travelers spend more than half of their trip monies on transportation, including airfare, rental cars, and other modes of transport.
  • Although almost half of Millennials report that cost is the biggest reason they don’t travel more, this generation is the “most likely to go into debt for travel.”
  • Surprisingly, Forbes’ research shows that about 40% of Americans have never traveled outside their home country. With such large numbers of people living below or near the poverty line in America, and considering the costs of international travel, the option is not a reachable one for many in the US. In fact, 63% of those in the US who haven’t traveled to another country stated “an international trip would be out of their price range.”

Exchange Rate Issues

  • Compared to the US dollar, the Euro has decreased in value since its six-year high (of 0.940) in 2016. It decreased to 0.848 by 2018, and bumped up a bit in 2019 to 0.893. Although the exchange rate is close, the lower Euro-rate means that it costs Americans more to travel and vacation in European countries using Euros.
  • TripSavvy notes that, “any trip to France [or another European country] means considering the issue of Euros versus dollars and exchanging currency.” They state that Americans should add 10% to their travel budget to allow for the exchange rate, and they should do their best to get the best-possible exchange rate for their dollars prior to leaving on the trip. Some Americans exchange their currency at airports or hotels (rather than at their banks), and this increases the costs since there’s typically additional fees involved.

Potential Terrorist Attacks

  • As of mid-2019, the US State Department had identified multiple European countries as ranking at Level Two (“exercise increased caution” when traveling) due to issues related to terrorism. Interestingly, many of these countries are also some of the most popular tourist attractions for Americans, so when 2020 travel data is available, looking deeper into how much American travels to Europe will be of interest.
  • Germany is listed as the primary country-of-caution based on the many (at least 13 so far) terrorist-related incidents in the region since 2015. This includes the 2016 Berlin attacks on a Christmas market, the 2016 Wuerzburg train incident, and the bomb exploding in a bar in Ansbach. These attacks came from “right-wing German extremists,” Turkish organizations, and Kurdish extremists, among others.
  • Italy is listed as the next country-of-caution by the US State Department due to “potential terrorist attacks that may target popular tourist locations and both public and private spaces.” A 2016 plot against the Vatican and Israeli Embassy in Rome (that was stopped), and a 2018 “drive-by shooting in Macerata” are among the notable incidents.
  • Spain also makes the list of possible terrorist points-of-attack due to incidents like the Barcelona jihadist attack, as well as the pedestrian killings in La Rambla and Cambriis. Belgium also makes the list, due to 2015 Islamic state attacks in Belgium, the bombing in Brussels in 2016 that was the “deadliest terror attack in Belgium’s history,” and the 2018 Belgium stabbings.
  • France also is a country-of-caution due to terrorist activity and civil unrest. The threats in these countries earned the caution designation after the 2015 attack in Paris, a packet-bomb explosion in Lyon, and the Yellow Vests Movement (“supported by 80 percent of French citizens") against higher taxes and issues related to President Macron.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina also make the list of European countries at risk for terrorist attacks, though this region is not a popular tourist attraction among US travelers.

Upcoming Additional Notable Factors

  • TRAVEL AUTHORIZATIONS: The New York Times reports that, beginning in January 2021, Americans traveling to most countries in the European Union will face one additional difficulty (that’s not present today): they will “have to register online and pay a small fee as part of the new security system intended to screen visa-free travelers.” Experts note that these are not “visas,” and that no applications, fingerprinting, or other information will be required for these authorizations.
  • CORONA VIRUS: With the spread of the Wuhan corona virus, China has just been added to the US’ list of countries with Level 4 Advisories (“do not travel”); none of the other countries on the list are located within Europe. Notably, however, the virus has spread to parts of Europe, including Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Croatia, the UK, Algeria, and Germany, and travel advisories are now in effect for much of Europe. Experts believe the virus will continue to spread, which will hamper travel even further.
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Factors Impacting Travel: Chinese Travelers

The primary factors negatively influencing Chinese travelers regarding travel to Europe are distance, spending habits and budget, payment methods, and the language barrier.

Key Findings

  • The most popular destinations among Chinese tourists are still those in close proximity to China, such as Hong Kong, Macao, and Southeast Asia. Europe and other global destinations are less popular due to the cost and time required to travel to them. However, Europe and other long-haul destinations are growing in popularity.
  • Another factor influencing Chinese travelers is spending habits and budget. As Europe is a relatively expensive part of the world, budget-conscious travelers might choose instead to visit more budget-friendly destinations such as Macau or South Asia. The average Chinese tourist in Europe spends €3,400, indicating that this is not a budget holiday for most travelers.
  • Additionally, many Chinese travelers are impacted by payment method differences between China and Europe. Historically and currently, the payment methods which are common in China are less widespread in Europe. UnionPay, China's primary credit card issuer, was not accepted by most European merchants until recently.
  • Now, mobile payments are becoming very common in China, and Chinese travelers are looking to use these methods abroad, as well. According to Nielsen, 69 percent of Chinese travelers in 2018 used mobile payments while abroad. AliPay and WeChat Pay are two mobile payment providers which are highly popular in China but not widespread outside of the country. Moreover, "93 percent of Chinese tourists said they would spend more money if mobile payments were more widely available."
  • In response to this, and to attract more Chinese tourists, merchants outside of China are beginning to adopt these mobile payment methods. "In early June, Alipay announced a collaboration with six European mobile wallet services. The goal is to establish a “unified” QR code that allows Alipay users to make payments at any location that already accepts one of the payment services. Once fully implemented, Chinese travelers will be able to make payments using Alipay across a network of 190,000 merchants in 10 European countries."
  • According to Chinese tourist website DragonTrail and the European Travel Commission, the language barrier is another factor negatively impacting travelers from China to Europe. This barrier is particularly top-of-mind in Europe due to the variety of languages spoken. One result of this is that guided tour bookings are still quite common among Chinese travelers to Europe, particularly among older adults. According to tourism software company Regiondo, "the language barrier is one of the main concerns of Chinese tourists when selecting a tourism product."
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Emerging European Regions: Russian Travelers

Three emerging European regions of interest for Russian travelers include the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Estonia.

1. Tallinn-Estonia

  • It is estimated that about 858 thousand Russians visited Estonia in the first half of 2018, a 5% increase from 2017. By May 2019, Eesti Rahvusringhääling (ERR), the Estonian Public Broadcasting news portal, estimated that visits by Russian nationals have increased by a year-on-year rate of 41%. This growth is in line with Estonia's ambitious plan to have foreign tourists spend 5 million nights between 2014 and 2020.
  • 61% of Russian travelers choose Tallinn as their city of choice. The border city of Ida-Virumaa is also considered an emerging destination of choice for Russian tourists due to its closer proximity to Russia.
  • Hotelier Tallink estimates that Russian visitors to Tallinn increased by 30% between December 2019 and January 2020, compared to the same period a year before. This points to Tallinn growing as an emerging region of interest for Russian travelers.
  • The proximity of Estonia to Russia has been cited as a reason for the increase in Russian tourists. The ease of access through railway transport and the use of the Russian language in tourist services has also contributed to the influx of Russian tourists into Tallinn.

2. Prague- The Czech Republic

  • Russian travelers to the Czech Republic stood at approximately 565 thousand in 2018, a 3.78% rise from 2017. Tui Russia Press Service has determined that the demand for Prague tours has grown five times. During the New Year holidays, Russians are twice more likely to travel to Prague. This supports the notion that the Czech Republic, particularly Prague, is growing as a region of interest for Russian travelers.
  • Different tour operators have portended the growth of Russian visits to Prague to be anywhere between 5% and 10% in 2020. Russian tour operators also confirm positive growth trends for Prague as an emerging destination for Russian travelers, having been pleased by 2019 sales.
  • Russian travelers spend the longest in Prague, an average of 3 nights. Attractions in Prague that are in high demand by Russian travelers include spa tours, city tours, and the popular Christmas/New Year holiday celebrations.
  • The emergence of the Prague-Vienna-Budapest-Bratislava tour line has been identified as one of the contributing factors of Prague's growing popularity among Russian travelers. The ease of access through direct transportation from Russian cities during peak traveling seasons has also been a contributing factor, despite recent reductions in the same.

3. Heviz, Hungary

  • 80 thousand Russians traveled to Hungary in 2018, a 57% increase from 2017. In 2019, the flow of Russian travelers increased by 20%. The fact that Hungary has also increased the number of visa centers in Russia, having pledged to issue at least 60,000 visas in 2019, is a testament to the emergence of Hungary as a region of interest for Russian travelers.
  • Heviz, in particular, is becoming a popular destination for Russian travelers. The most popular tourist attraction is Lake Heviz-Balaton, touted to be the largest thermal lake in the world. Heviz came in 12th place in the prestigious European Best Destinations 2020, which will promote the emerging city on its website. European Best Destinations is considered the most visited website for European tourism.
  • Direct flights between Moscow and Heviz have been cited as a contributing factor to the increase in Russian travelers to Hungary. Medical spa tourism, thanks to Lake Heviz, is also a key contributing factor.

Research Strategy

To determine emerging European regions of interest to Russian travelers, your research team began by looking through the cities that were most visited by Russian travelers. This had two goals; to eliminate the most-visited destinations from our findings and to examine regions that have experienced significant and sustained growth in visits. The latter determined which destination was emerging as a region of interest to Russian travelers. Available information was also used as a determining factor, as supporting evidence was needed for each case.
Tallinn showed the highest visits among other Baltic states, which stood out since the growing distrust of Russia by Baltic states is well documented. Prague and Heviz's emergence as growing destinations was not only supported by the increased number of visits, but also by data-backed information and industry commentary. Your research team also supplied evidence that the growth trends will continue in these regions into 2020. Unfortunately, forecasts past 2020 were not found.
The Russian Travel Digest provided significant contributions to the findings in this report, as it is considered an authority in Russian travel trends.
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Emerging European Regions: American Travelers

The three emerging European regions of interest to Americans who travel abroad are Athens in Greece, Istanbul in Turkey, and Paphos in Cyprus. Below are details on why these regions are emerging and growing in popularity among US travelers.

Athens in Greece

  • Based on the 2019 market intelligence report of the European Travel Commission (ETC), Greece saw the strongest growth rate of 47.4% when it comes to destinations for US travelers.
  • US citizens who opt to stay for up to 90 days may enter Greece even without a visa either for tourism or business purposes.
  • Additionally, emergency passports are issued only in the Athens Embassy.
  • Further growth rate, especially in Athens, is driven by the year-round flights between New York and Athens.
  • In a survey for the top destinations for adventure travel in 2020, it was also chosen as the top destination for millennials and made it in the third place when it comes to honeymoons.

Istanbul in Turkey

  • Turkey has recorded a 36.8% growth rate in the number of US travelers who visited the country in 2019 compared to 2018.
  • Istanbul became one of the most popular destinations for US travelers when it comes to affordability. This is because the Turkish currency has lost about 45% of its value in 2018, making the American dollar strong in the country.
  • The most famous attractions in the city are the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace which would only cost $6.62 to visit, compared to $11.30 a few years ago.
  • Istanbul's public transportation through the Istanbul Kart, including buses, trams, subway, and boats, are also cheaper, making it easier for travelers to visit more places in the city.
  • Additionally, the "Istanbul New Airport" which opened in 2018 was considered one of the world's largest airports, making Istanbul one of the most important international gateways.
  • Having direct flights to Turkey from 9 US cities, a layover in Istanbul makes it an advantage to US travelers since Turkish Airlines gives free accommodations and free tours for those who have more than 6 hours layover in the city.

Paphos in Cyprus

  • Cyprus has recorded a 32.7% growth rate in the number of American travelers who visited the country in 2019.
  • Among its cities, Paphos is considered to be a lot more peaceful than the country's capital city, Nicosia.
  • Paphos is considered a modern city after it has invested €30 million for the city's refurbishment to modernize public facilities and upgrade architectural infrastructures.
  • Cyprus is known for beautiful beaches and one of the most interesting is the famous Aphrodite's Rock in Paphos which is believed to be the birthplace of the Greek goddess.

Research Strategy:

For this request, we were able to identify the three "emerging" European regions of interest to Americans who travel abroad based on the growth rate in the number of US travelers as reported by the European Travel Commission (ETC) Market Intelligence group. Based on the July 2019 report of ETC, the United States stands out in its contribution to the growth of European tourism which accounts for an 11% share. The strongest growth rates in the number of US travelers in 2019 are seen in Greece (47.4%), Turkey (36.8%), and Cyprus (32.7%). From this data, we then searched for articles and recent publications that detail how and why American travelers choose these countries and which specific regions from these countries are becoming more popular. Our selection was based on different factors that are consistently evident in different sources, such as ease of entry, affordability, and safety, among others.
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Emerging European Regions: Chinese Travelers

Three emerging European regions of interest to Chinese travelers are Oslo, Norway; St. Petersburg, Russia, and Budapest, Hungary. Details of these regions are below.


  • According to the 2019 Chinese Tourism to Europe Report, Norway is an emerging European country of interest for Chinese travelers.
  • In 2019, there was an 84% increase in Chinese travelers to Norway over 2018 numbers.
  • The main reason behind the influx of Chinese travelers to Norway is the favorable exchange rate because according to the Chinese Tourism to Europe Report "as the RMB continues to weaken against the USD, it’s the right time for traveling to Europe."
  • Norway currently offers the fifth-best exchange rate overall for Chinese travelers, but the first-best in Europe.
  • Additionally, new flight routes from Beijing, China to Oslo, Norway opened in the first half of 2019, which made travel to Norway easier for Chinese travelers.
  • Chinese travelers also want to visit Norway to see the Northern Lights and as a port for cruises.
  • The best region in Norway to see the Northern Lights is the Lyngenfjord Region. The popularity of the Northern Lights for Chinese travelers means that this region is likely an emerging destination within Norway.
  • Other cities where the Northern Lights are best seen in Norway include Svalbard, Varanger, Narvik, Lofoten Islands, Tromso, and Bodo.
  • Since Norway is becoming a popular port of call for cruises for Chinese travelers, it is likely that the cities where these ports are located are also emerging in popularity. These ports include Alta, Bergen, Bodo, Tromso, Molde, Oslo, and many more.


  • The 2019 Chinese Tourism to Europe Report lists Eastern Russia as an emerging European country of interest for Chinese travelers.
  • In 2019, there was a 34% increase in Chinese travelers to Eastern Russia over 2018 numbers.
  • According to the Chinese Tourism to Europe Report, the main reason behind the emerging popularity of Eastern Russia as a destination for Chinese travelers is the favorable exchange rate.
  • Russia currently offers the eighth-best exchange rate overall for Chinese travelers, but the fourth-best in Europe.
  • Within Russia, the top attraction for Chinese tourists is Winter Palace, which is located in St. Petersburg. This means that St. Petersburg is an emerging region within Russia for Chinese travelers.


  • Like Norway and Russia, based on data from the 2019 Chinese Tourism to Europe Report, Hungary is an emerging European country of interest for Chinese travelers.
  • In 2019, there was a 3% decrease in Chinese travelers to the UK over 2018 numbers, but due to the favorable exchange rate, this number is expected to climb.
  • Hungary currently offers the sixth-best exchange rate overall for Chinese travelers, but the second-best in Europe.
  • Another reason for Hungary’s emergence of a European region of interest to Chinese travelers is that in the first part of 2019, new flights were opened up from Shanghai to Budapest and Shenzhen to Budapest, meaning that this city is likely the most popular region within Hungary for Chinese travelers.
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European Travel Forecasts: American Travelers

American outbound travel to Europe is expected to rise between 2018 and 2023 with a cumulative growth of 22.3% within the forecast period, with the bulk of the growth happening in the outbound travel to Central/Eastern Europe at an annual average growth of 7.6%. Factors spurring the growth of outbound travel to Europe from the United States include increased direct flights to European destinations, sustainability and improved train networks in Europe, as well as the positive or moderate outlook on America's macroeconomics. Additional details on the projected state of the American outbound travel market to Europe have been provided below.

American Outbound Travel to Europe Forecast

  • Between 2018 and 2023, total outbound travel to Europe from the United States is expected to grow at an average of 4.1% per year, and a cumulative growth of 22.3% during the same period.
  • The biggest growth is expected in American outbound travel to Central/Eastern Europe at an annual average growth of 7.6% for a cumulative growth of 44.5% during the forecast period.
  • This is followed by the expected growth in visits to the countries in the European Union at an annual average growth of 4.9% and a cumulative growth of 27.1% during the forecast period.
  • Visits to Northern Europe are expected to grow at an annual average growth of 4% between 2018 and 2023, with a cumulative growth of 21.9% between 2018 and 2023.
  • Visits to Western Europe are expected to grow at an annual average growth of 2.5% and this sums up to a cumulative growth of 13.3% between 2018 and 2023.
  • On the other hand, outbound travel to Southern Europe from the United States is expected to grow at an annual average growth of 4.4% between 2018 and 2023 and this sums up to a cumulative growth of 23.9% during the forecast period.

American Outbound Travel to Europe: Historical Data

  • Between 2013 and 2018 outbound travel to Europe from the United States grew by a cumulative average of 55.6%.
  • This growth was more visible in Southern Europe, which enjoyed a cumulative growth of 65.8% between 2013 and 2018.
  • The growth in American outbound travel to the countries in the European Union cumulatively grew by 48.4% between 2013 and 2018.
  • Visits to Western Europe by Americans cumulatively grew by 49.5%, while visits to Northern Europe grew by 63.1% between 2013 and 2018.
  • Inbound visits to Central/Eastern Europe from the United States cumulatively grew by 39.5% between 2013 and 2018.

Factors to Propel the Predicted Growth

Increased Direct Flights to European Destinations

  • In 2019, there were multiple routes added to the United States-Europe path with examples such as Newark–Naples, Tampa–Amsterdam, and Chicago–Athens.
  • This trend is expected to continue and contribute to an increase in outbound travel from the United States to Europe. "The airlines are creating links to more European cities, including longtime favorites that typically haven’t been accessible, and lesser-visited ones that will finally get their turn in the spotlight."
  • Some of the routes earmarked for the future include San Francisco to Rome, Newark to Palermo, Los Angeles to Copenhagen, Boston to Vienna, New York to Kraków, and Chicago to Prague and Budapest.
  • Additionally, there has also been an "increasing number of direct flight connectivity with low-cost carriers (LCCs)" to Europe, especially the Nordic region.

Sustainability and Improved Train Networks

  • Europe is the home of the flight shaming movement, which "has been fueled by a growing wave of eco-conscious travelers who are forgoing flying for less environmentally harmful forms of transportation such as train travel."
  • Already, 24% of United States travelers have reduced their "travel by at least one or more flights in the past year due to environmental concerns."
  • While this may not necessarily affect American travel to Europe, it will affect how Americans travel when they are in Europe. This is because, as a consequence of more climate-conscious consumers, European governments are building better and faster trains.
  • This means that Americans can do more travel when they get to their initial destinations; already, at least each trip by an American to Europe results in a visit to two destinations on average. The presence of fast and climate-friendly train will facilitate the increase of this average.
  • This will be especially true for American visitors going to the Schengen Area; this area has no border checks and a high-speed network.

American Macroeconomics

  • Adam Sacks, the president of Tourism Economics, notes that "several factors combined to make 2018 such a robust year for globetrotting Americans: tax reform measures that gave both consumers and businesses more money for travel, faster wage growth, high consumer confidence, and low unemployment." Such a macroeconomic environment contributes to a strong outbound travel market.
  • All critical economic indicators such as GDP, exchange rate, and unemployment rates that could impact the American outbound travel market are predicted to increase or remain the same between 2019 and 2023.
  • In 2020, consumer spending/expenditure in the United States is expected to grow by 2.3% year-on-year over 2019 figures, while the GDP is expected to grow by 1.8%.
  • Consumer spending will be buoyed by factors such as steady income growth and elevated savings, with consumer confidence also reading positive.

Research Strategy

Due to a lack of resources providing a forecast over the next five years, the research team provided the next-best data on the forecast that covers the next four years (2000-2023). Additionally, factors specifically causing the growth of outbound travel to Europe was not readily available in the public domain. The research team pivoted our research to provide the factors influencing the growth of outbound travel in general.

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European Travel Forecasts: Russian Travelers

Russian outbound travel to Europe is expected to rise between 2018 and 2023 with a cumulative growth of 34.2% within the forecast period, with the bulk of the growth happening in the outbound travel to Central/Eastern Europe. Factors spurring the growth of outbound travel to Europe include the expansion of the route network of low-cost airlines, demand for shorter trips, as well as increasing consumer spending. Additional details on the projected state of the Russian outbound travel market to Europe have been provided below.

Russian Outbound Travel to Europe Forecast

  • Between 2018 and 2023, total outbound travel to Europe from Russia is expected to grow at an average of 6.1% per year, and a cumulative growth of 34.2% during the same period.
  • The biggest growth is expected in Russian outbound travel to Central/Eastern Europe at an annual average growth of 7.7% for a cumulative growth of 44.6% during the forecast period.
  • This is followed by the expected growth in visits to Northern Europe at an annual average growth of 6.5% and a cumulative growth of 36.8% during the forecast period.
  • Visits to the European Union countries are expected to grow at an annual average growth of 4.6% between 2018 and 2023, with a cumulative growth of 25.4% between 2018 and 2023.
  • Visits to Western Europe are expected to grow at an annual average growth of 4.9% and this sums up to a cumulative growth of 26.8% between 2018 and 2023.
  • On the other hand, outbound travel to Southern Europe from Russia is expected to grow at an annual average growth of 4.7% between 2018 and 2023 and this sums up to a cumulative growth of 25.8% during the forecast period.

Russian Outbound Travel to Europe: Historical Data

  • Between 2013 and 2018 outbound travel to Europe from Russia declined by a cumulative average of 29.8%.
  • This decline was more felt in Central/Eastern Europe, which suffered a cumulative decline of 50.5% between 2013 and 2018.
  • The decline in Russian outbound travel to the countries in the European Union cumulatively declined by 13% between 2013 and 2018.
  • Visits to Western Europe by Russians cumulatively declined by 24.7%, while visits to Northern Europe by 20.6%.
  • Southern Europe was the only region to experience an increase in inbound visits from Russia with a cumulative average annual growth of 7.9% between 2013 and 2018.

Factors to Propel the Predicted Growth

The Expansion of Route Network of Low-Cost Airlines

  • According to Dmitry Khavansky, Skyscanner development manager in Russia, "in the future, growth is due to the expansion of the route network of low-cost airlines and the appearance of super-economical base tariffs for classic carriers."
  • In Russia, the number of passengers flying with low-cost carriers (LCCs) is set to grow from seven million in 2018 to between 25 or 30 million by 2023.
  • This, according to Mr. Khavansky will make people buy tickets at low prices and may allow them to plan more weekend trips that are more effective.
  • The adoption of LCCs is also borne out of the need for tourists to optimize their expenses by any possible means.
  • The continued fluctuation of the ruble is also a contributing factor to the urge for tourists to save on trips abroad.

Demand for Short Trips

  • There is an increasing demand for shorter trips by Russian tourists. In 2018, the demand for tours that last less than seven days increased by 56%.
  • Alexey Belousov of OneTwoTrip reckons "that the interest of tourists in short-term trips will continue to strengthen, and their share, accordingly, will grow." According to Mr. Belousov, "this will happen due to the preservation of the significant influence on the demand of two factors: the increasing cost of leisure abroad and the expanding consumer experience of tourists themselves, which leads them to more frequent and active trips."
  • Tourists are also beginning to be more inclined to travel for shorter times to see more countries by taking several short vacations instead of one long one.

Consumer Spending

  • Consumer spending in Russia is seeing an uptick and this could contribute to the growth of outbound travel to Europe in the immediate and long-term future.
  • Accordingly, "economic momentum in Russia may be picking up, with signs of consumer demand recovering from the VAT-driven crunch earlier in 2019." There are also indications that the country's GDP will increase in 2020 and beyond.
  • Consumer expenditure is expected to increase by 2.1% in 2020 over 2019 figures.

Research Strategy

Due to a lack of resources providing a forecast over the next five years, the research team provided the next-best data on the forecast that covers the next four years (2000-2023). Additionally, factors specifically causing the growth of outbound travel to Europe was not readily available in the public domain. The research team pivoted our research to provide the factors influencing the growth of outbound travel in general.

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European Travel Forecasts: Chinese Travelers

Although precompiled data for trends in Chinese travel to Europe over the 2020-2024 period were unavailable in the public domain, researched successfully calculated the figures for this period using the publicly available information. Additionally, the Corona Virus outbreak that started in Wuhan, China is expected to reduce the number of Chinese travelers to Europe by between -7% and -25%. A detailed overview of the research findings and research strategy follows below.  

Chinese Travel Trends to the European Union in the Past

  • Over the 2014-2015 period, the number of total uniform visas issued to Chinese nationals within the European Union (EU) increased by 32.9%.
  • The top European destinations favored by Chinese travelers during this period included France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
  • However, Chinese EU travel figures from 2016 indicated that there was an 8.8% downturn, possibly because of security incidents.
  • In 2017, the situation recovered and a total of around 2.3 million uniform visas were issued in the EU to Chinese travelers.
  • In total, Chinese travelers were issued an estimated 3.34 million visas to the EU in 2016. These visas comprised of two different types of visas i.e. total uniform visas that allow holders to stay for a maximum of 90/180 days and multiple entries visas that are issued to business travelers and are valid for 12 months to facilitate more than one trip to the EU.
  • Chinese trips to the EU were expected to increase by 1.5 million trips from 2016 to 2020. This represents a year-over-year growth of 10% from 2016 to 2020.
  • Between 2006 and 2016, the number of nights spent by Chinese tourists in the EU more than tripled i.e. in 2016, Chinese tourists spent around 25 million nights in the EU.
  • According to a report by the European Travel Commission, in 2018, the total number of Chinese tourist arrivals recorded in Europe was 14.2 million. This figure represented a 5.7% increase as compared to 2017.

Chinese Travel Forecast to the European Union in the Future

  • In 2020, the number of Chinese travelers to Europe is expected to reduce because of the Corona Virus epidemic that originated in Wuhan, China.
  • The virus is expected to reduce Chinese travel to Europe in 2020 by between -7% and -25% as governments institute travel bans and route cancellations so as to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • According to Tourism Economics, the previous SARS pandemic decreased Chinese arrivals to Europe by -17%.

Chinese Travel to Europe in 2019 and 2020:

  • In 2018, 14.2 million Chinese tourists traveled to Europe. This figure represented a year-over-year growth of 5.7%. Assuming that the growth rate remained the same in 2019, then:
  • Number of Chinese Travelers to Europe in 2019 = 14.2 million x 105.7% = 15 million.
  • Because of the Corona Virus, Chinese travel to Europe is expected to reduce by between -7% and -25%. Consequently, the number of Chinese travelers to Europe in 2020 can be estimated as follows:
  • Number of Chinese Travelers to Europe in 2020 = 15 million x 93% = 13.95 million.
  • Number of Chinese Travelers to Europe in 2020 = 15 million x 75% = 11.25 million.
  • Therefore, Chinese travel to Europe in 2020 is expected to reduce to between 13.95 million and 11.25 million. The main factor behind this predicted reduction in Chinese travel numbers is the Corona Virus epidemic.

CAGR of Global Chinese Travel 2020-2024:

  • According to prediction data that was published by the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), the number of global border crossings from Greater China in 2020 is expected to be 99 million. This figure jumps to 125 million border crossings by 2024.
  • Because a 5-year forecast for Chinese travel to Europe was unavailable in the public domain, the border crossing figures presented above were used to calculate these figures with the assumption that trends in global Chinese traveling can be used as a proxy for Chinese travel to Europe.
  • Another assumption made in calculation is that the Corona Virus crisis that is expected to affect Chinese travel to Europe in 2020 will have subsided in the next 10 months.
  • The Compound Annual Growth Rate of global Chinese travel was calculated to be 4.77% for the period of 2020 to 2024.
  • The above estimation was calculated using this CAGR calculator with the starting value as 99 million, the end value as 125 million, and the number of periods as 5.

Chinese Travel to Europe 2020-2024:

  • Assuming that the above calculated global CAGR is similar to that for Chinese travel to Europe, the change in travel for the period 2020-2024 was calculated using this reverse CAGR calculator as between 17.61 million and 14.2 million. These figures have factored in the effects of the Corona Virus on the 2020 forecast.
  • The first calculation was conducted using a starting value of 13.95 million for the year 2020, a CAGR of 4.77%, and number of periods as 5 (to represent the 5 years from 2020 to 2024).
  • The second calculation was conducted using a starting value of 11.25 million for the year 2020, a CAGR of 4.77%, and number of periods as 5 (to represent the 5 years from 2020 to 2024).
  • Consequently, Chinese travel to Europe for the 2020-2024 period is predicted to be between 13.95 million and 11.25 million in 2020 and between 17.61 million and 14.2 million in 2024.

Factors Expected to Drive Forecast (2020)

  • As mentioned earlier, the outbreak of the Corona Virus is expected to reduce the number of Chinese travelers to Europe in 2020 by between -7% and -25%.
  • This projected reduction is expected to decrease the number of Chinese travelers to Europe from an estimated 15 million in 2019 to an estimated 11.25 million - 13.95 million in 2020.
  • The Corona Virus epidemic will negatively affect travel from China to Europe because governments in China and Europe have put in place travel restrictions and route cancellations as a way of counteracting the spread of the virus.

Factors Expected to Drive Forecast (2021-2024)

  • In reference to the 2018 Tourism in Focus: China Tourism report, the factors that are expected to support the surge in Chinese travel over the next 5 years include "an expanding middle class, improving air connectivity, easier visa procedures, and more Chinese-friendly destinations."
  • According to Compass Edge's China Outbound Tourism Trends Prediction 2022 report, the key factors that will promote Chinese travel include flight accessibility, visa exemption policy, safety and security issues, and influence from movies, celebrities & key opinion leaders.
  • The China Tourism Academy and the HCG International Travel Group published a joint report that attributed the increasing popularity of Europe as a destination for Chinese travelers to visa convenience, more flights, and favorable exchange rates.
  • From the above information, it can be concluded that the main factors that are expected to increase the number of Chinese travelers to Europe include an expanding middle class that has more disposable income, better air travel in regard to the number of flights and air connectivity, favorable visa requirements including easier visa procedures and visa exemption policies, more Chinese-friendly destinations in Europe, and improved safety and security.
  • The above listed factors are expected to drive the forecast for the 2020-2024 period because they will create a favorable environment for Chinese travelers to travel to Europe for both business and leisure.

Research Strategy:

Unavailability of forecast information for Chinese traveling to Europe in the next 5 years resulted in the calculation and triangulation of the projected figures. In our search for forecasted information, we targeted press release resources such as PR Newswire and Globenewswire, global news resources such as Reuters and BBC, and travel reports from organizations such as the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute. Although some of these resources provided useful information that was employed in triangulation, the targeted 5-year forecast information remained unavailable.

Apart from the effects of the Corona Virus to travel from China to Europe in 2020, available information in the public domain pointed to the numerous positive factors that are expected to increase the number of Chinese travelers to Europe in the coming years. Consequently, we factored the effects of the Corona Virus in our calculations to ensure the figures presented take into account the effects of the virus on travel.

The factors expected to drive the forecast that have been highlighted above are expected to increase travel to Europe post-Corona Virus because numerous reports cite these factors as what will positively influence Chinese travel to Europe over the coming few years. Additionally, the SARS outbreak in China eventually resulted to a decrease in travel from China to Europe by -17%, but after the epidemic was averted, the figures picked up. The same is expected for the current Corona Virus epidemic.

From Part 07
  • "$1,089 Billion: Yearly American tourism expenditure ($932.7b domestic / $156.3b international)"
  • "Behind nightlife/dining, travel was voted America’s most popular choice for spending disposable income at 36%."
  • "The average American spends $6,080 on international trips."
  • "#1 factor in Americans booking travel is price, but reviews and amenities are close runners up."
From Part 10
  • "Despite the fact that 74% of Russians say that the youth will have more opportunities to travel abroad than their parents, the analysis of economic factors shows that few will be able to afford heavy travel expenses."
  • " At the same time, security is a significant factor in choosing a particular destination of travel. Nowadays Asian countries - Japan and China - are considered to be the safest in terms of the risk of terrorist threats and crime rate."
  • "The publicity also has a significant impact on the perception of the country as an attractive place to travel. Nowadays negative news dominates the information flow and people tend to pay attention on them more than on positive events."
  • "Regions interested in increasing the flow of Russian tourists should make active and purposeful efforts to increase the positive publicity about their regions in Russia."
  • "A recent Gallup poll made headlines in Russia with the revelation that a record 20 percent of the population wanted to leave their country. Among younger Russians, the figure was far higher: For 15- to 29-year-olds, a staggering 44 percent indicated that they would like to migrate."
  • "Young people have also voiced their discontent at home. They were at the forefront of recent protests in Moscow demanding that independent and opposition candidates be allowed to run in local elections this September."
  • "Protests in Yekaterinburg in May put a momentary end to the construction of a church in one of the inner-city parks. And large-scale protests in 2018 against pension reforms suggest broad dissatisfaction with the socio-economic conditions, and the regime’s difficulties in managing societal expectations."
  • "In 2018, Russia showed the largest growth of +16% (by the amount of expenditures of citizens on holidays and travel abroad), which let her maintain the 8th place in the world rating."
  • "However the outbound tourism market finished the year of 2018 with a humble (compared to growth rates of 2017) growth in the number of tourists. At year-end 2018, the outbound tourist flow grew only by 6.1% (in 2017 – by 35.9%)."
  • "Equipping of Russians with devices for consumption of media content in 2018. Top 3 has not changed since last year: TV (98%), smartphone (81%), laptop (81%), and PC (80%). The most significant growth for the year is demonstrated by the activity of use of mobile phones (+11 points)."
  • "In a world where people draw on the experience and recommendations of other consumers on the network, as well as reviews of professional travelers, native advertising gets more chances to be perceived by the consumer. "
From Part 13