Proud of its tourism product, Europe has witnessed a number of setbacks recently, however, it continues to bolster and promote its impressive sights. Natalie Hami reports.
It cannot be denied that Europe offers travellers some of the most memorable landscapes, history and architecture; with the cherry on the cake being the incredible array of museums and the culinary diversity available in a variety of inspiring settings.
However, it also cannot be denied that given recent attacks in a number of European destinations, it is expected that there will be repercussions on the tourism industry. A sense of instability was also exacerbated with the recent decision of the UK to exit the European Union, known as Brexit. Despite Europe’s traditional light-hearted mood being replaced by that of uncertainty, according to the European Travel Commission (ETC) tourism performance continues on a positive footing, noting that safety and security concerns and developments in travel facilitation call for closer monitoring to assess the impact on tourism in the mid-term.
Executive director, ETC, Eduardo Santander said: “Tourism is one of Europe’s most important industries and it constitutes a powerful tool to foster economic development and employment growth. Amidst increased competition and unpredictable events, European leaders within the sector are called to jointly co-operate to enhance the visibility of Europe and safeguard its image as an appealing and welcoming tourist destination.”
According to the ETC’s European Tourism 2016 – Trends & Prospects, the continent’s top performing destinations are Iceland (+35 per cent), Slovakia (+24 per cent) and Cyprus (+21 per cent). TUI Group also noted that in terms of growth, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Portugal and Italy are the most important destinations.
With this in mind TTG investigated how a handful of countries are faring and what types of strategies they are implementing in order to encourage repeat business.
Following the UK’s decision to exit the European Union, a shadow of doubt was cast over how the tourism industry would be affected. So far stakeholders have been keen to ensure that visitors feel welcome, encouraging them to take advantage of the ‘favourable currency exchange’.
Referring to the GCC, one of Britain’s stronger markets, director, APMEA, VisitBritain, Sumathi Ramanathan said: “We’re driving a strong value message coupled with great quality to ensure we continue to attract GCC visitors. With favourable currency exchange rates also helping matters, tourism from the GCC to Britain is very much on track for a great performance this year.”
She added: “We are welcoming visitors from the GCC to Britain and we are expecting this summer to see more GCC nationals visiting as we continue our activity in the market to promote Britain as a favourite holiday destination.”
Also keen to create a relationship with the lucrative MENA market, is Hotel Gotham in Manchester, according to its general manager, Mario Ovsenjak who told TTG: “The MEA market is extremely important to the Gotham brand. So much so, in fact, that we are hoping to launch a Gotham in Dubai in the future.”
Dubbed ‘Europe’s sexiest hotel’, Ovsenjak added that the new property – which stands in an ideal location in Manchester’s upmarket shopping district – caters to a mix of people, but the majority of its guests are leisure travellers looking for an experience within the hotel, rather than the experience beginning when they leave each morning to explore their surroundings.
Meanwhile, travellers seeking a truly unforgettable luxury escape in Cornwall should look no further than Penolva by St Mawes Retreats. “The house is a classic Cornish property, boasting breath taking views of the Cornish coast and St Mawes harbour, contemporary interiors with all the latest appliances, and extensive outdoor space,” founder, St Mawes Retreats, Amanda Selby told TTG, adding that Penolva offers the epitome of British tradition and Cornish beauty.
Expanding on the tourism segments that the property will be targeting, Selby said: “We are currently promoting the leisure industry and multi-generational family holidays.”
Moving on to Switzerland, the destination’s main tourism body, Switzerland Tourism is inspiring visitors with the Grand Tour of Switzerland.
Director GCC, Switzerland Tourism, Matthias Albrecht explained to TTG: “The Tour is 1,600km long, travels through four linguistic regions, over five alpine passes, to 11 UNESCO World heritage sites and 22 lakes.”
“The focus is on The Grand Tour of Switzerland which is a great product within the GCC especially. We promote the Grand Tour via [traditional] media, social media and cooperations with key accounts and tour operators,” added Albrecht.
On a visit to this picturesque destination, visitors can also enjoy two new museums: The Chaplin’s World in Vevey Montreux Riviera and the FIFA Football museum in Zurich, among many other sights.
While Switzerland Tourism is focusing on providing a more culture-infused experience for its visitors, some of the Alpine destination’s key properties are honing in on the wellness segment.
Giardino Ascona, on the occasion of its 30th anniversary took the opportunity to launch Ayurveda by Giardino. “This is a thorough programme of the ancient wellness system, and we are pleased to say that we are the first five-star hotel in Switzerland to include Ayurveda in its health and wellbeing offerings. Umesh Tejasvi, who studied in the Sushrutha Medical College in Bangalore and is the author of My Ayurveda, leads the brand-new programme along with a highly qualified team carefully selected by Daniela Frutiger, a member of the executive team of Giardino Group,” said general manager, Giardino Mountain, Katrin Rüfenacht.
Wellness enthusiasts will also be embraced this year at Hotel Royal Savoy Lausanne, following the recent opening of the Spa du Royal, covering an area of 1,500m2. The property’s general director, Alain Kropf told TTG: “It includes an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as separate women’s and men’s wet areas, eight treatment rooms and two private spa areas, and a fitness area equipped with the latest technology. It also provides a comprehensive range of cosmetic treatments and massages, a spa boutique and a hairdresser. It is the perfect place for a relaxing time.”
Offering wellness in the heart of the mountain, Tschuggen Grand Hotel’s 5,000m2 of spa and wellness facilities undoubtedly feature heavily in the Swiss luxury property’s product, as highlighted by the hotel’s executive assistant manager, Leonie Schefenacker. “We are promoting the leisure and wellness segment aas Arosa is a mountain region laid out for winter sports and hiking in summer. In addition to this, Arosa has got a beautiful lake which allows the guests to experience pure mountain water in spectacular surroundings. As the Tschuggen Grand has the Wellness and Spa ‘Bergoase’ we also offer our guests the wellness aspect in combination with outdoor sports.”
For more adventurous guests, Alpenblick Arosa, also part of the Tschuggen Hotel Group, has launched a series of fun activities from summer horse riding to fly-fishing and sleeping in a tepee. These excursions can also be combined with a stay at Tschuggen Grand Hotel.
The small Mediterranean island of Cyprus has been witnessing impressive visitor figures of late, having picked itself up after a financial crisis hit in 2013. With tourism considered a mainstay of the country’s economy, it was no surprise that this particular industry suffered. However, come 2016, the month of June saw a 23 per cent increase in arrivals compared to the previous year, with the year’s general outlook forecasted as optimistic.
In recent years, Cyprus has seen a number of fruitful developments which have greatly enhanced its tourism product, thus upping its visitor numbers. These include the building of the new Limassol Marina, the newly-announced Pafos Marina and hotels such as Lokàl Hotel in Larnaca and the King Jason Protaras, while Le Méridien in Limassol will be rebranded as Parklane Luxury Collection Resort and Spa.
With this in mind, the island’s hospitality stakeholders are following suit with improvements to their product, which are set to keep visitors happy and returning to Cyprus.
General manager, sales and marketing, Louis Hotels, Popi Tanta informed TTG: “Louis Hotels has announced the full restructuring and commencement of operations of the well-known St. Elias Resort in Protaras which was much loved by both foreign tourists as well as Cypriots, in June 2016.”
Tanta elaborated that it has been fully reconstructed and redesigned as a luxurious holiday resort, comprising 152 comfortable studios and one- and two-bedroom suites, all equipped with modern supplies, large balconies and a panoramic view of the area.
She added: “St Elias Resort introduces a new perspective to hospitality in Protaras. The construction of a brand new swimming pool with Jacuzzi, the addition of water slides in the new fully renovated swimming pool, the children’s clubs, a restaurant serving traditional Greek meze dishes (The Meze by Elliniko) as well as a second restaurant serving international cuisine, the spa centre with gym offering facial and body treatments, create a unique holiday experience focusing on relaxation and revitalisation.”
Referring to other ideal properties in the company’s portfolio, Tanta noted that Limassol is a must visit for the MENA market, with the Royal Apollonia being the ultimate choice.
Also situated in the buzzing coastal city of Limassol, general manager, St. Raphael Resort, Demetris Demetriou elaborated on the many exciting leisure experiences on offer to hotel guests.
“As it’s summer time the resort has put on its summer programme, which includes beach parties with bonfire, torches and DJs, summer open air restaurants with special themed nights (Tex/Mex BBQ and Italian night with live cooking pasta station), live shows and disco parties at the amphitheatre, and romantic shisha nights at the Sailor’s Rest.”
He added: “We also have a brand new laser show with acrobatic dancers and cool lights shows.”
Always at the ready to please the tastes of any traveller, Europe delights with a varied palette of choices.