Experts: Tourists avoiding Europe after terror attacks – USA TODAY

7 months ago Comments Off on Experts: Tourists avoiding Europe after terror attacks – USA TODAY

Americans were shying away from Europe as a travel destination even before Tuesday’s terror attack in Brussels, and experts say the horrific bombing of the airport and train station may accelerate that trend.

“There’s definitely a shift going on,” said Patrick Surry, the chief data scientist for the travel-data firm Hopper. “It feels like that’s been the trend since the Paris attacks, and now you’ve got an attack directly on an airport.”

Hopper’s data shows that searches by travelers considering Europe are down 13% so far this year, compared to the same period last year. Surry said searches for travel to South America and Asia, including Japan, Columbia and India, have increased during the same period. Overall, worldwide travel searches and bookings have remained stable. People are still traveling, but are avoiding Europe, he said.

Priceline, Expedia and TripAdvisor all reported reduced revenues in the weeks after the Paris terror attacks left 130 dead in November, said Tuna Amobi, an equity analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence. The three companies have a significant presence in Europe, and Amobi said he expects a similar decline now.

“Any time you have a terrorist scare, you see a meaningful slowdown in … revenues or room-night growth or booking,” Amobi said. “That’s kind of natural where consumers take a step back and assess the situation.”

Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels at an airport and subway station killed at least 31 and injured more than 200. The State Department issued an advisory urging travelers to remain vigilant across Europe.

“Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants and transportation,” the department said. The agency issued a similar advisory in the wake of the Paris attacks that targeted cafes, a concert hall and a stadium.

Following the Paris attacks, AirBnB saw a “small drop” in bookings, said company spokesman Nick Shapiro. He said Paris tourism officials reported a similar industrywide drop in business for 3-6 month following those attacks. He said it’s too soon to tell whether the Brussels attacks would have a similar impact.

Europe is AirBnB’s largest region, with more than 1 million listings representing 57% of the company’s entire listing portfolio. Last year, nearly 4.8 million people stayed in an AirBnb in Europe, up 101% compared to 2014, the company said.

Expedia said the Paris attacks reduced earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation by $10 million to $15 million, or four to five percentage points during the fourth quarter. Mark Okerstrom, travel booking site Expedia’s chief financial, told analysts last month the company was “quite pleased” with its overall financial performance, despite the Paris headwinds.

Ernst Teunissen, TripAdvisor’s chief financial officer, told analysts last month the Paris attacks reduced fourth-quarter revenues 1.5% to 2%. By January, there was no lingering impact, “but we are keeping our eye on it very closely,” he said.

But Priceline saw 27% growth in room-nights booked and 11% growth in rental-car days overall during the fourth quarter when the Paris attacks occurred, according to Daniel Finnegan, the chief financial officer. That’s despite a decline of more than 10 percentage points during the three-week period following the deadly rampage, Finnegan told analysts last month.

“Growth bounced back strongly in December,” Finnegan said.

Surry of Hopper said repeated terror attacks could have a cumulative effect that hasn’t fully been felt, coming atop the ongoing refugee crisis and and news of several countries’ financial struggles.

“There’s nothing good on the news about Europe right now,” he said.

Contributing: Bart Jansen.

Experts: Tourists avoiding Europe after terror attacks – USA TODAY

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