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European Cities Marketing Benchmarking Report 2015 confirms the emergence of a strong positive city tourism trend

A strong positive trend in percentage growth rate for ECM report cities has emerged again this year, achieving a rate of 5.7% in total bednights and 7.0% in international bednights. Sharp decreases in the number of bednights contributed by Japan and Russia seem to have been offset by the strong positive growth trends of the other seven top source markets, with China and Italy each reaching increases of over 12% since 2013.

European cities are still surfing on the wave of success : the UNWTO Annual Report 2014 affirms that "Europe continues to be the most visited region in the world with over half of the world´s international tourists." Furthermore, the ECM Benchmarking Report 2015 states that over the last 5 years (2010-2014), bednights in ECM Benchmarking Report cities have been increasing at a faster rate than of the 28 EU nations with + 5.8%, 1.2 points higher than the average growth rate for the 28 EU nations.  

Top Performing Cities
 
The 2013 top five cities in terms of total bednights held their rankings in 2014. London, already being the top performing city, showed a robust growth rate of 6.1% since the previous year, whereas Berlin had the highest growth rate among the top 5 cities with 6.5%. Rome and Barcelona followed suit with positive growth rates in 2014, similar to 2013. In contrast, Paris managed to maintain its position at number two, despite a negative growth rate for the second year in a row. Madrid, Istanbul, and Amsterdam were the top performers in terms of growth rate with more than 10% increase over 2013.

While explaining Istanbul's remarkable growth, Özgül Özkan Yavuz, General Manager at Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau answered: "Istanbul has historically been a great cosmopolitan city at the heart of culture, and today the number of visitors to the city is growing exponentially as it becomes an ever-more popular destination. Being easily accessible from around the world plays a big factor in this growth; Istanbul is the only city in the world spanning two continents."  
 

Top Source Markets
 
Similar to 2013 and making up 20% of total bednights in the ECM Benchmarking Report cities, the US, German, UK and French markets have grown individually between 4.9% and 9% since 2013. Spain and Italy resumed positive growth rates after continuous decreases in number of bednights spent in European cities with respectively +7.7% and +12.4%. Not surprisingly, the highest top source market was China, with an impressive growth rate of 14.5% over 2013. Japan kept on its negative growth since 2013, though the most marked decrease in bednights belonged to Russia. Nonetheless, the Russian source market remains important to ECM Benchmarking Report cities and stands for 3% of total bednights registered in European cities.  
 

Tourism Densities
 
This new section of the ECM Benchmarking Report examines the number of bednights a city hosts per citizen. In 2014, the average tourism density for the sample of ECM cities was 7.14 bednights per citizen. The two destinations with the highest tourism densities are Funchal and Venice. However, nearly two-thirds of the sample (93 cities) revealed tourism densities below average, and about half of the sample shows densities of between 0.6 and 5 bednights per citizen.  


 Commenting on the results, Ignasi de Delàs, ECM President said: "These results provide crucial insights into European city competitiveness and competitor sets. The ECM Benchmarking Report clearly shows that the continuous success of city tourism in Europe is based upon a rich mix of source markets. With an average of 65% of international guests, European cities can cope with negative growth of markets like Russia or Japan, thanks to the recovery of the Spanish and Italian markets. Despite all economic or political factors, it is proven that the cities' strategic focus on international visitors is the main reason for the triumph of the cities, which gives City Tourism Managers every reason to be confident in the strength of the European tourism industry." 


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