Looking ahead to the rest of the year, a more moderate rate of expansion is expected for this year (around 3,6 percent), with short term risks, such as the slowing global economy, trade tensions and political uncertainty weighing on growth projections.
Despite challenges, the majority of destinations which have reported data for early-this-year performances, have shown continued growth in foreign arrivals and overnight stays.
Among the most impressive performers is Montenegro, which has invested in improved winter infrastructure allowing the destination to extend the tourism season for interested travellers. This investment, coupled with significant promotional activities and improved air connectivity, has seen the country record growth of 41 percent in arrivals compared to the same period a year ago.
Other destinations that have experienced considerable growth in international arrivals are Turkey and Ireland, (both +seven percent).
Despite lingering weakness in the value of pound relative to the euro, growth in travel to Ireland from the UK was modest, but significant given the UK accounts for over 40 percent of total arrivals to Ireland. Amidst the Brexit downturn, Ireland is set to reduce reliance on its second largest source market through a market diversification approach.
Elsewhere, large destinations such as Portugal (+ six percent) and Spain (+ two percent) broke arrival records in absolute terms early in the year, benefiting from increasing year-on-year tourism revenues. While both gained market share during this period, the strong recovery of the Turkish tourism sector means these Iberian destinations will face significant challenges for the remainder of the year.