Tourists still love Europe despite terror fears


The rising number of terror attacks across Europe hasn't dimmed the region's appeal to overseas visitors.

In a new study of tourist-friendly countries released Thursday by the World Economic Forum (WEF), European economies dominated the top-10 rankings, with Spain leading the pack, indicating the region was well placed to attract overseas visitors and create tourism jobs.

Barcelona, Spain
Christopher Groenhout | Lonely Planet Images | Getty Images

France took second place, followed by Germany, while the U.K. placed fifth, Italy ranked eighth and Switzerland was tenth.

"Despite increased fear of terrorism, tourism performance of countries such as France and Germany have not declined significantly, confirming a strong resilience of the tourism sector to security shocks in the presence of strong institutions and sound fundamentals," WEF said.

Over the past two years, more than 230 people have died in France due to hostilities linked to the militant group Islamic State, according to Reuters. Last month, four people died in an onslaught on London's Westminster Bridge.

Still, Europe's cultural richness, excellent tourism service infrastructure, strong health conditions, international openness and general sense of perceived safety have trumped terror concerns, WEF said.

The organisation based its rankings on various factors, including safety, health, human resources, price competitiveness, infrastructure, and culture.

These countries really want your tourism dollars

Europe remains the world's largest travel and tourism market, having attracted 620 million of the 1.2 billion international visitors in 2016, followed by Asia-Pacific, WEF said.

Japan, Asia's highest ranking nation, came in fourth, while Australia took seventh place. Hong Kong ranked eleventh, Singapore was thirteenth, and China took the fifteenth spot.

"Asia-Pacific can rely on outstanding natural resources, a highly-qualified labor force and governments that understand the potential and support the sector. Yet, environmental sustainability, which is paramount to the continued growth of the industry, remains a concern."

Despite their competitive prices and abundant natural resources, most Southeast and South Asian countries under performed due to volatile political developments in addition to poor infrastructure and hygiene, according to WEF.