The recovery has officially ended: European tourism exceeded the figures from 2019 in the first quarter.

Consumption of tourists within Europe increased by 2023


11. May 2024.

The European tourism industry is experiencing a strong recovery in the first months of 2024.

Based on data from destinations, foreign arrivals (+7,2%) and overnight stays (+6,5%) in the first quarter of the year exceeded the figures from 2019. This continues the upward trend recorded in 2023, which recorded foreign arrivals 1,2% below the 2019 level, and overnight stays only 0,2% below.

The recovery was largely driven by strong intra-regional travel driven by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands. This is linked to demand from the US, which remains Europe's most important source market for long-haul flights.

This is according to the latest edition of the quarterly report 'European tourism trends and prospects' published by the European Travel Commission (ETC). This report tracks the performance of European tourism in the first quarter of the year and the macroeconomic and geopolitical factors affecting the industry's outlook on the continent.

Commenting on the publication of the report, Miguel Sanz, president of ETC, said that the first figures for 2024 reveal a positive outlook for European tourism this year. "Consumer spending on travel is set to rise significantly across Europe, reaching record figures in the coming months. This incentive will support travel and tourism businesses that have been greatly affected by the pandemic years and ongoing economic instability. However, high prices and geopolitical risks remain key obstacles for tourism, as the sector as a whole also seeks to adopt more responsible practices for the benefit of local people and the preservation of the environment. "

Strong recovery of European tourism, but differences remain

Data from the beginning of the year to date show that destinations in southern Europe leading a recovery in international visitor numbers compared to 2019 levels, including Serbia (+47%), Bulgaria (+39%), Turkey (+35%), Malta (+35%), Portugal (+17%) ) and Spain (+14%).

These countries offer a vacation experience at competitive prices, often combined with milder winter temperatures. The Nordic countries are also seeing an increase in tourist activity, as overnight stays have risen above pre-pandemic levels. This increase is particularly visible for Norway (+18%), Sweden (+12%) and Denmark (+9%). The great interest is partly fueled by winter sports tourism and the attraction of the northern lights.

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Meanwhile, countries in the Baltic region still lags behind due to the challenges caused by the war in Ukraine, and Latvia recorded the lowest number of international arrivals after the pandemic (-34%), followed by Estonia (-15%) and Lithuania (-14). %).

Data from the first few months of 2024 also shows the uneven performance of the long-line source market. The US and Canada continue to dominate, mirroring the 2023 trends.

There was also an increase in passengers from Latin America, especially Brazil, during the first quarter of the year. In contrast, although the APAC region is showing signs of improvement compared to last quarter, the recovery remains modest and uneven. While Chinese travelers are starting to return to Europe, the recovery from Japan is still slow.

Despite the challenges, consumer demand remains strong

Inflationary pressures i geopolitical uncertainties they are still a big problem for the European tourism industry.

The war in Ukraine continues to affect tourist flows, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, the war between Israel and Hamas is now significantly affecting travel from Israel to Europe, with Israeli arrivals down 54% year-on-year in the first quarter across all reporting destinations.

They are considered the biggest challenges for the European tourism sector accommodation expenses (59%), business expenses (52%) and lack of staff (52%).

In contrast, online social conversations about travel in Europe have overwhelmingly positive tones, outpacing discussions of other global regions such as the Americas, Africa, and Asia-Pacific in early 2024. 

Consumer data also shows that travel remains a top priority in 2024.

Spending by intra-European and long-haul tourists increased at the beginning of 2024. Forecasts show that travelers will spend this year 742,8 billion euros to EuropeIt is the same an increase of 14,3% compared to 2023.

This can be attributed to both inflation and growing travel preferences, with travelers potentially opting for longer stays or more varied experiences. Germany will be the main source of passenger spending, with a share of 16% of total spending in Europe in 2024.

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Consumption growth is expected for recreation, culture and sports (+27%), retail sales (+23%), transport (+23%) and accommodation (+19%), driven by both inflationary pressures and demand preferences. And suppliers will be required to strike a balance to ensure that higher prices do not lead to a lower perception of value for money.

The Paris Olympics and Euro 2024 are expected to boost demand in France and Germany

This summer will bring two major sporting events to Europe: the Olympic Games in France and the UEFA European Football Championship in Germany.

The Olympics are expected to attract an increase in domestic and international tourists, and the impact will extend beyond the city of Paris itself. Inbound spending growth is forecast at 13% for Paris and 24% for the whole of France at 2019 levels. The Euro will be less concentrated in the German capital, with games in ten cities. This is expected to offer a more dispersed benefit, with all participating cities set to experience a significant increase in tourism revenue.

Photo: hrturism


11. May 2024.