Heraklion is Europe’s fastest growing tourism destination

Heraklion is Europe’s fastest growing tourism destination for 2017. The Cretan city welcomed 11 per cent more visitors so far this year, compared with the same period in 2016, according to new data from Euromonitor, surpassing its European rivals to register the largest rise in arrivals. Another Greek city, the capital Athens, boasted the second largest growth, with a 10 per cent increase, while the number of people visiting Artvin, a city in north-eastern Turkey, grew more than nine per cent, putting it in third place.

“Heraklion is the first place most visitors encounter on arrival by plane or ferry, and a dusty, rowdy, honking, disorganised mess it can seem, with road-drills and scooters echoing in the narrow streets,” wrote Christopher Somerville after a visit for Telegraph Travel. “However, it still has the atmosphere and appearance of an ancient Mediterranean city with a long, densely tangled history, a richly rewarding place for a day-long exploration on foot.” Heraklion Archaeological Museum is the world's greatest showcase of Minoan artefacts, even more so in the wake of an eight-year refit. Artvin, in north-east Turkey, is firmly off the radar of British holidaymakers, but Euromonitor says it is popular with Georgians. Globally, Denpasar, the capital of the Indonesian island of Bali, saw the largest increase in arrivals, with more than 50 per cent more visitors this year than last. Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, grew just less than 50 per cent, while arrivals to Delhi, India, rose by more than a third.

The report, published by travel analysts Euromonitor International and launched at the World Travel Market in London, also ranked the world’s 100 top cities in terms of international arrivals, as well as charting their potential for growth up to 2020 and 2025.

The research illustrates the growing dominance of Asian destinations, with six cities in the top 10. Despite a dip in arrivals of 3.2 per cent, Hong Kong still ranked first, with 25.7 million visitors. By 2025, Euromonitor estimates the city will receive 44.1 million annual arrivals - just less than the population of Argentina.

In 2010, 34 of the top 100 cities were Asian. This number rose to 41 this year and will be 47 by 2025.

“Asia Pacific is the standout region that has driven change in the travel landscape over the past decade and is expected to continue doing so in the future,” said the report.

“The impact of inter-Asian travel, predominantly from China in particular, cannot be underestimated.”

This growth is best illustrated by the predicted Asian dominance of the world's most visited cities for 2025, with all the top five spots assumed by destinations in the region, and London and Paris forced out.

Seoul, South Korea’s capital, is one city in Asia anticipating a slower rate of growth. Arrivals have fallen 15 per cent since last year.

The report showed Europe’s tourism industry has been shaken by the continued terror threat.

“Despite terrorist attacks, the top 10 European cities remain largely unchanged,” it said. “Although Paris has dropped down the ranking following the two high-profile attacks in 2015.