Travel Bulletin - - EUROPE - By Nathalie Craig

AUS­TRALIANS are ap­proach­ing Euro­pean travel this year with “a re­newed sense of op­ti­mism”, ac­cord­ing to Scenic’s act­ing gen­eral man­ager of sales and mar­ket­ing Liz Glover. “We all got 2016 fa­tigue; it was a chal­leng­ing year for ev­ery­one in so many ways and I think peo­ple have started 2017 afresh,” Glover said. The same sen­ti­ment has been echoed across sev­eral of the ma­jor tour op­er­a­tors, each of whom has spo­ken of a stronger con­sumer con­fi­dence around Euro­pean des­ti­na­tions af­ter a dif­fi­cult time last year. Trafal­gar Tours, Scenic and Globus have each recorded a rise in sales in the first month of 2017 when com­pared to Jan­uary 2016, with Bri­tain and Ire­land depar­tures be­ing in par­tic­u­larly hot de­mand. “Bri­tain and Ire­land al­ways go ex­tremely well for us and Eastern Euro­pean land tours go re­ally well as well,” Glover said. Globus fam­ily of brands na­tional mar­ket­ing man­ager Chris Fun­dell con­curred, while also high­light­ing the suc­cess of a Scot­tish High­lands tour this year. “It’s Jan­uary and we have al­ready beaten last year’s sales on this one,” he said. Tour op­er­a­tors are re­port­ing that Scan­di­navia and Switzer­land are stand­ing out as trend­ing des­ti­na­tions, with a strong in­crease in book­ings for 2017. “Scan­di­navia is def­i­nitely some­where that is on ev­ery­body’s map,” Glover said. Fun­dell re­ported the same, say­ing Scan­di­navia was sell­ing “ex­cep­tion­ally well”, along with a se­lec­tion of Switzer­land rail of­fer­ings. “Peo­ple are look­ing for new ex­pe­ri­ences,” he said. While the shadow of ter­ror­ism saw France take a hit last year, op­er­a­tors re­main con­fi­dent the des­ti­na­tion won’t lose its ap­peal in the longer term. Trafal­gar man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Matt CameronSmith high­lighted a re­silience in France. “Peo­ple are still go­ing to France with­out ques­tion – there’s a lot on of­fer,” CameronSmith said. “Paris is the num­ber one tourist des­ti­na­tion in the world and I think it will hold that place”. He said while there was no ques­tion sales were down for the city of light last year, Trafal­gar was see­ing trac­tion again on the des­ti­na­tion. At Scenic, Glover sug­gested cus­tomers were be­ing a lit­tle more cau­tious and said France was not ex­pected to re­gain “healthy book­ings” un­til 2018. “While we’re not see­ing a down­turn this year we ex­pect to see growth hap­pen in 2018,” she said. “Our clients don’t say ‘I’m never go­ing there’. They just say I’ll just wait a year and go some­where else in the mean­time. “They just show a slight cau­tion which I guess comes with age,” Glover ad­mit­ted. Fun­dell, on the other hand, thinks France is al­ready well on its way to re­cov­ery. “I think there has been a short term hit but we haven’t seen a great im­pact on over­all sales”. Over­all, the ma­jor Euro­pean tour providers trav­el­bul­letin spoke to are all ex­pect­ing to see no­table year-on-year growth in their Euro­pean sales across 2017.

Ash­ford Cas­tle

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