Covid-19: what impact on the activity of European metropolises?

3 min reading time

Published on 22/03/21 - Updated on 17/03/22

Impact Covid métropoles

Lockdowns, border closures, health restrictions, physical distancing ... European urban destinations are suffering from a lack of tourists and visitors. The impact is severe on all markets. Hospitality ON begins a series of analyses and interviews to look beyond the current crisis. The figures will speak for themselves, but so will the people involved in these territories, their action plans and the professionals who work in these destinations.

Never before seen, unprecedented.... many adjectives are used to discuss this crisis which is pushing tourism professionals and destinations to the limit. The 2020 performances of the European cities that have suffered the most from the pandemic illustrate the violence of the impact. Stop and then sharply reduction of air rotations, cascade of event cancellations, massive recourse to telecommuting have dried up the manna of corporate and foreign customers who usually occupy the majority of the accommodation in these destinations. How will these destinations position themselves to encourage the recovery of tourist activity?


On the podium of cities with the greatest impact on hotel RevPAR:

  1.     Barcelona (-82.7%)
  2.     Rome (-82%)
  3.     Amsterdam (-81.3%)

Barcelona and Amsterdam also recorded the biggest fall in TO with -62.9 points in the north and -62.2 points in the south of Europe.

This crisis is forcing professionals in the sector and destinations to question the nature of their tourism and their strategic priorities. The two metropolises that sent out the most repulsive signals for mass tourism are those that suffered the most in 2020 and 2021: Barcelona and Amsterdam. For example, furnished rentals are banned in the historic centre of Amsterdam, while coffee shops, which are a vector for tourism that is out of step with the city's objectives, will be maybe soon prohibited to non-Dutch nationals.

In Barcelona, after a moratorium of several years on hotel development, the first project to be built will be the Leonardo Royal Hotel Barcelona Fira, 11 floors for 204 rooms, while the Sagrada Familia, the brainchild of Antonio Gaudí, will see a new tower completed.

London, which continues to ride the wave of growth initiated by the hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games, is one of the most affected European urban destinations with a decline in TO of -59.9 points in 2020 (for a RevPAR down by -77.60%). After a policy of collective immunity, the British government has strictly confined its citizens, counting on a massive vaccination which should allow Londoners to restart their activities before their continental neighbours.

Parisian hotels have also suffered greatly from the crisis with a loss of occupancy of -56.3 points resulting in a drop in RevPAR of -77.30%.
Conversely, the so-called secondary French cities fared better with a more moderate decline in TO: -40.4 points in Lyon, -37 points in Bordeaux and -30.9 points in Marseille.

The majority of European urban destinations had to close their hotels, particularly during the first wave of confinement.

The Paris market has been strongly impacted by the second lockdown launched at the end of October 2020, closely followed by Madrid and Brussels.

In this context, where national and international competition will become more intense throughout the recovery phase and where destinations will strongly attack their domestic and local markets, what will be the strategies of European metropolises ? Will tourism be perceived as a nuisance or a vector of economic activity ? How are the professionals involved in these urban destinations ? What recovery plans have been implemented ?

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