Year of Uncertainty Impacts Travel … Where Travelers Are Going and Where They Are Not


Unsplash. Mantas Hesthaven

American travelers visiting Europe are making careful choices with some concerned about political unrest.

According to a recent U.S. News & World Report, 2016 – 2017 Best Vacations, which combines travelers’ opinions with “expert” analysis, the top places to visit in the world are Great Barrier Reef, Australia; Paris and Bora Bora, Polynesia.

Paris, however, always a popular destination, is feeling some of the travel concern with travelers turning away from “The City of Light” one year after terror attacks at Bataclan theater with a 12.8 percent decline in travelers during the 2016 winter holidays. This is according to an analysis of traveler flight plans by travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance.

Peak Holiday Travel Season Sees Shift

Allianz Global Assistance reviewed more than 650,000 Americans’ travel plans during the peak holiday travel season, Thanksgiving through New Year’s, and found a significant decline in the number of travelers planning on visiting cities affected by terrorism.

Paris proved to be still popular over the summer vacation season with a moderate increase in booking interest. However, Paris fell from 80,214 travelers in the 2015 winter holiday season to 69,975 in 2016. The number of travelers to Istanbul, meanwhile, fell by 60.2 percent and Brussels was down by 19.6 percent.

The three cities lost a combined 19,082 travelers in 2016 versus the previous year. By comparison, the top six cities in Europe with major increases of between 16.1 and 30.8 percent added a combined total of 18,073 new travelers – still less than the amount lost by Paris, Istanbul and Brussels.

Which Cities Are Seeing More Visitors?

Those cities that benefited most from the redistribution of American travelers interested in visiting Europe include: Amsterdam, Netherlands, increased by 30.8 percent; Lisbon, Portugal, increased by 29.0 percent; Venice, Italy, increased by 19.6 percent; Vienna, in Austria, increased by 17.5 percent; Munich, Germany, up 16.5 percent; and Budapest, Hungary, increased by 16.1 percent.

Big Cities Not As Popular

Travelers are also opting to explore different cities in the countries they visit: fewer travelers are making plans to visit Geneva (down 17.3 percent) but more are looking to visit Zurich (up 11.7 percent), both in Switzerland; likewise in Germany, the number of travelers to Berlin and Frankfurt decreased (down 9.0 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively) this holiday season versus last, while planned travel to Munich increased (up 16.4 percent).

London is Hot

While some major cities will see a significant decrease in U.S. travelers visiting during the upcoming holiday season, the continued interest in exploring new destinations in well-established countries helped Europe as a whole record its modest 3.01 percent increase to 694,581 travelers in 2016 compared to 673,685 in 2015. London, which saw a 6.3 percent increase in the number of travelers compared to last year, maintained its most-visited city ranking from 2015.

New Destinations Explored

“While it’s clear that concerns over terrorism have impacted travel to some cities in Europe, it’s encouraging to see that American travelers have opted to explore new destinations across the Continent,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz Global Assistance USA. “We’re also noticing that travelers are considering the purchase of travel insurance so that they have the option to cancel or interrupt their trip should there be a terrorist event at their destination within 30 days of their arrival.”

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