Traditional destinations made a comeback in terms of long-haul arrivals in Europe during Q1 2018

The latest results from the Air Travellers’ Traffic Barometer*, produced by European Cities Marketing and ForwardKeys, highlighted that the year has been kicked off with solid growth in its first quarter. Eastern destinations are still growing at incredible rates and traditional destinations such as Rome make a comeback.

International arrivals in Europe 1 Jan – 31 Mar 2018 (% Var vs Prev year)

Number of long haul travellers increased by 12.5% in Q1 2018 compared to Q1 2017

Total international arrivals in Europe grew by 6.1% in Q1 2018, invigorated by long-haul travellers (+12.5%) while intra-European travel showed moderate growth. Arrivals from most regions maintained growth rates above 10%.
The Middle East (+18.1%) and Central & South America (+17.3%) led the way internationally in terms of arrivals growth.

Leisure travellers segment is growing steadily

The traveller profile of long-haul arrivals maintained a growing leisure-related behaviour. This is indicated by the larger pax per bookings growing the most, as well as lead times of greater than 120 days, increasing more than any other category.

A return to more traditional destinations

The top two destinations for long-haul travellers, London (18%) and Paris (16%) kept the same shares as in the previous quarter. Istanbul’s immense steadfast growth has led it to become the 3rd top destination, with a share increase of 2 percentage points. Seville jumped from a 18.2% increase in arrivals to 33.1%. New cities to the Top 10 growing destinations compared to Q4 2017 include Rome, Budapest and Amsterdam, which mark a return to more traditional destinations.

Forward bookings in general confirm a positive travel outlook for Q1 2018 (international arrivals ahead by 2.2%)

Although bookings for intra-European travel is seeing a decline of 3.6%, long-haul arrivals, ahead by 8.3%, are still making up for this. The robust growth seen last quarter has slowed down, partly because the rebound from the terrorism-related crashes has ended. Istanbul (+50.5%) is again the most promising destinations in Q2, appearing in both top 10 rankings by volume and by performance. Swiss destinations Geneva and Zurich are new additions to the 10 fastest growing destinations in forward bookings, possibly thanks to the recent depreciation of the Swiss Franc, making Switzerland a more affordable destination.

All ECM members have exclusive access to the complete European Cities Marketing-ForwardKeys Air Travellers’ Traffic Barometer with all the graphs and analysis.


*This analyse is based on Air Reservation Data propriety of ForwardKeys® as of 31st March 2018. Perimeter: Includes air reservations made by passengers arriving in Europe and staying at least one night in destination, therefore excluding: “Transits”, “Day trips”, “One-way trips” and “Returns”.
Arrival period: 1 January – 31 March 2018 vs. 1 January – 31 March 2017.
Booking situation for next quarter: 1 April – 30 June 2018 vs. 1 April – 30 June 2017 according to bookings issued as of 31 March 2018 and as of 31 March 2017.




*European Cities Marketing is a non-profit organisation improving the competitiveness and performance of leading cities of Europe by providing a platform for convention, leisure and city marketing professionals to exchange knowledge, best practice and widen their network to build new business. European Cities Marketing is promoting and linking the interests of members from more than 110 major cities in 38 countries.

For more information and pictures, please contact:
Flavie Baudot,, +33 380 56 02 00


* is a service of Forward Data S.L, a Market Research and Consulting Company registered in Spain. ForwardKeys is a Business Intelligence service bringing a new approach to operational traveller data intelligence for Hotels Chains, Tourism boards and Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) leveraging non confidential Air reservation information. ForwardKeys provides to:
– DMOs and Tourism Boards with travellers’ trends information and means to monitor and measure the impact of their marketing efforts to drive more business to their destination.
 Hotel chains with ways to quantify future demand and anticipate market trends to optimize sales, marketing and revenue management efforts, using traveller’s reservation, source market, arrival, return date and future travel information.

Contact information
Laurens van den Oever,