Travel trends expert ForwardKeys links the growth to events such as the 2018 World Cup in Russia and long-term factors, such as increasing pressure on major airports, the success of low-cost airlines and the popularity of travel, writes Olivia Rook.
The economic contribution of European regional travel increased by 3.8% in 2017, which is significantly faster than the overall GDP growth of the EU at 2.3%, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
Intra-European international seat capacity is growing fast as a result of the increased demand.
In 2018, intra-European seat capacity is up by 6%. The growth has been strongest in central and eastern Europe, where capacity has increased by 12.7%.
In southern Europe, Turkey and Greece have both seen a growth in capacity, with Antalya up by 65% and Mykonos up by 44%.
As well as developing its regional capacity, Russia has expansion plans for its regional airports, taking advantage of momentum from the World Cup.
Olivier Jager, chief executive and co-founder of ForwardKeys, said: “Low-cost travel is constantly increasing its market share and driving a lot of regional and trans-Atlantic expansion, but demand is still going to outstrip capacity.
“The regional expansion trend seems irresistible and many European destinations are already facing the problems of overtourism, as seen in Barcelona and Dubrovnik.
“There needs to be combined efforts and vision from airports, airlines and destinations simultaneously to capitalise on the economic benefits and manage the growth in a sustainable way.”