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London cannot afford to rest on its laurels despite achieving record visitor arrivals of 17.4 million in 2015, claims a firm which monitors travel patterns by analysing 14 million booking transactions a day.
Latest forward booking data covering long-haul travel to major European cities this year shows overall annual growth of 3.9% but London is 3.7% down.
Bookings covering May to August, show European cities are 3.7% up, while London is 1.8% behind where it was at the same time last year.
Forwardkeys co-founder and chief executive, Olivier Jager, said: “These numbers must be a worry for London as it would expect to be the highlight of a long-haul trip to Europe and when Europe grows London should grow with it, not fall behind.
“When we look in more detail at the data, three important source markets, the USA, Australia and China are all down by 4%.”
However, London maintains its leading position in volume terms, with a 14% market share.
Paris is also looking at a decline in forward bookings, due to a slow down in business travel.
Amsterdam and Milan are the winners among the top 10 in Europe, with double-digit growth in both year-to-date arrivals and forward bookings.
Jager said: “The disproportionately good performance of Amsterdam is most noticeable in leisure-related categories, such as group bookings, while Milan is attracting business and leisure tourists due to improved air connectivity and the upcoming World Expo, which is drawing particularly strong interest from China, with bookings 50% up on last year”.
Munich, up 15.3% in the first third of the year, has seen growth driven by visitors from China, India, Japan and Taiwan.
Barcelona, up 12% over the same period, has picked up tourism business from all over the world.
Istanbul is 10.1% ahead in terms of forward bookings thanks to improved air connectivity and growth in Chinese and Taiwanese visitors following recent introduction of an easy to obtain e-visa.
Looking at the forward bookings for Europe for May to August, there is strong demand from both mature and emerging markets. North America shows stable growth of 4% for summer travel, accounting for a 40.4% market share.
Inbound travel from South America, Africa and Oceania is all slightly down, by 1%, 1.3% and 0.5% respectively, according to ForwardKeys.
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