Tourists are heading back to Europe, and the recovery is showing up in everything from rising hotel bookings to tax-free shopping and air traffic, leading to a brighter earnings outlook for travel and leisure companies. Laura Frykberg reports.
It's been a dark time for French tourism. Attacks in Paris and Nice put visitors off - costing French hotels 675 million dollars in lost revenue in 2016. But the fourth quarter - according to the national statistics agency - has seen crowds return to the iconic sites. And to others, across Europe. With the Spanish airline booking firm Amadeus - and the Eurostar operator Groupe Eurotunnel. All reporting improved earnings. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GLOBAL FINANCIAL ECONOMIST, COMMERZBANK, PETER DIXON, SAYING: "The events of the past couple of years have raised terrorism fears but on the whole Europe is perceived to be a fairly stable and safe environment in which tourists can feel protected. So it doesn't surprise me that tourists are heading back here." Tax-deductible shopping in Europe grew 21 percent in January, according to Global Blue, a tourism tax refund company. Luxury good makers Prada, LVMH and Hugo Boss all mentioned higher tourist spending from Asia in their results And Merlin Entertainments - which runs Madame Tussauds waxworks and 100 other attractions, said a weak pound was drawing tourists back to London. Travellers from China, Brazil and Russia are reportedly driving the rebound. And airlines are benefitting. British Airways owner IAG reported increased traffic for February. And budget airlines Easyjet and Ryanair saw passengers up 8 to 10 percent for the month compared to last year. But travellers have had a few challenges. In Berlin this week, a strike by ground staff over pay has caused around 1,000 flights to be cancelled. (SOUNDBITE) (German) STRANDED PASSENGER, KARL KOENIGSTAEDT, SAYING: "I feel like I have been taken hostage. As always with strikes, those who suffer are the travellers." The strike is likely to continue till Wednesday.