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What major trends are emerging for the 2022 summer season?

With a notable recovery in tourist activity in recent months, the 2022 summer season looks promising with the return in numbers of tourists from all over the world. Positive forecasts supported by the figures of the MKG Consulting, attesting to a good dynamic for the hospitality sector. Tourism really seems to be getting its colours back as the sun makes its appearance.

Tourism blossoms in Spring

Tourists were back for the spring holidays as well as for the Ascension and Whitsun weekends. Both domestic and international tourists returned to the pleasure of travelling at a time when health restrictions are gradually being lifted around the world. A recovery confirmed by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), which points out that there were already 2.3 times more travellers in January than in the same month a year earlier. It is estimated that the number of visitors will reach records this year. Paris recorded 52,000 arrivals by plane over the Easter weekend, seven times more than in 2021 for the period from May to July.

All of France performed well during the Spring holidays according to data shared by ADN Tourisme. Nearly half of the professionals declared that the season went "better than expected" and 30% underlined an increase in attendance. French attendance for the 2022 spring holidays appears to be higher than in 2019, while European attendance seems to be at the same level as two years ago. Some destinations are seeing the return of local European customers and others are even seeing the return of long-haul customers. Urban, rural, coastal and mountain destinations all seem satisfied with their overall visitor numbers.

Brittany, for example, has returned to similar visitor figures to those recorded before the health crisis. According to an analysis of Flux Vision Tourisme data from the Orange mobile phone network, visitor numbers even seem to have risen by 10% compared to their 2019 level between 1 April and 1 June 2022. This upward trend can be explained in particular by the high number of visitors over the Easter weekend and during the various weekends in May. The majority of visitors are local, with 30% coming from the Ile-de-France. However, foreign tourists are also back, with 20% of the attendance coming from this clientele.

 

The coastal regions were the most popular destinations, thanks in particular to the sunny weather during the month of May. The PACA region was one of the best performing destinations, thanks in particular to the Cannes Film Festival held from 17 May to 28 May. Urban destinations are also returning to their pre-covid performance as evidenced by the evolution of RevPAR and booking rates in Ile-de-France. These positive results were driven by the capital, which once again attracted a large number of foreign tourists and also welcomed many sports fans for the Champions League final and the Roland Garros tournament. For the Whitsun weekend, the data provided by MKG Consulting underlines that all regions recorded booking rates above 50% with the exception of Burgundy-Franche-Comté which had a rate of 37% as of 1 June 2022. 

French tourists seeking adventure

According to the latest Liligo survey, 60% of French people are planning to go on holiday this summer, compared to only 54% last year. The health crisis seems to have slowed down and this good news encourages the French to go on holiday again. This lull also means fewer restrictions on travelling abroad, encouraging the French to stay outside France during the summer. Thus, 42% of them said they wanted to go abroad, i.e. 19% more than last summer. This trend is even more pronounced among the younger generations, with 65% of 18-24 year olds wanting to travel abroad. The summer of 2022 will take place in France for 65% of French travellers compared to 74% last year.

Domestic tourism is still a trend in 2022 thanks to the French who are used to spending their summer holidays on their own territory as well as those who have developed a taste for it since the beginning of the health crisis. According to the latest data from MKG Consulting, all regions are showing an increase in booking rates over the summer season compared to those observed last year. The increase is particularly visible in June, with some regions showing differences of more than 30%, attesting to a good dynamic at the beginning of the season. The month of September also shows an increase in booking rates compared to 2021, demonstrating the growing interest of visitors for the wings of the season, to the delight of tourism professionals. Coastal destinations remain well ahead of travel intentions, but more rural destinations seem to be gaining ground as a result of the health crisis and its impact on tourist behaviour.

Despite the drop in purchasing power due to inflation, French travellers are nevertheless planning to spend an average of 1,028 euros per person, i.e. 149 euros more than last summer. This statement is nuanced by the study carried out by IFOP for Interhome France. According to the survey, only 18% of French people expect their budget to be higher than last year's, while 56% expect it to be the same. However, it confirms that more French people are planning to go on holiday this summer, although it should be noted that the pandemic continues to have an impact on the choice of destination (46%) but also on the length of holiday (23%) and the choice of accommodation (31%). These percentages are nevertheless down compared to the summer of 2021. The crisis will also have led to the emergence of greater concern for the environment among travellers, with 58% considering this aspect more when choosing their holiday.

While the French plan to spend more during the 2022 summer holidays, they also plan to travel for longer periods than usual according to the latest report published by Marriott Bonvoy. Indeed, of those planning to travel abroad in 2022, 57% say they plan to go away for longer, including 79% of 18-24 year olds and 68% of 25-34 year olds. This year, 51% of them want to go away for at least two consecutive weeks or more. The proportion of holidaymakers booking stays of more than 8 days has doubled compared to 2019. In addition, many are planning several holidays during the summer of 2022. Indeed, 47% say they will be going away more often than usual in the June-September period this year, with this figure rising to 66% for the younger generations. 

With the return of the two consecutive weeks of holidays, we observe that French travellers are determined to take a real break this summer. Many of them are planning to spend a lot more, and to go away for longer than before Covid, in order to compensate for two years of immobility. Finally, some good news for the tourism sector, which has suffered greatly since the start of the pandemic. This year, our customers are prioritising stress-free holidays where they will be looked after and can relax. 

Neal Jones, Sales and Marketing Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International

Voyages Pirates also looks at the trends for this summer and confirms the desire of the French to travel after two years marked by the pandemic. 65% of them want to go on holiday abroad, while 35% will turn to French destinations and staycation. Not surprisingly, coastal destinations are the most popular with Corsica dominating the intentions, followed by the Côte d'Azur, the Basque Coast and Brittany. However, according to the barometer published by the Savoie Mont Blanc Agency, 4 out of 10 French holidaymakers have chosen to go to the mountains this summer. An increase of 7 points compared to the same period last year, confirming the growing appeal of the mountain destination outside the winter period.

On the international side, southern Europe remains very popular with French travellers according to Voyages Pirates with Greece in the lead, followed by Italy, Croatia and Portugal. The United States is the only country outside the European continent that slips into the top five. Indeed, the hearts of the French seem to swing between Europe and North America in terms of the top 10 most searched destinations in 2022 on Google Flights for the dates from 1 June to 31 August 2022. By comparison, in 2021 their horizons were limited to Southern Europe and North Africa. As usual, sunny countries are in the spotlight:

  1. Lisbon
  2.  New-York
  3. Montréal
  4.  Barcelone
  5.  Porto 
  6. Marrakech
  7. Athens
  8. Palma de Mallorca
  9.  Denpasar – Bali
  10. Rome

International travellers on the holiday path

While Ukrainian and Russian tourists will not be present this year due to the conflict between the two countries, European tourists as well as American travellers will be there and are keen to travel again after two years of restrictions. According to the latest Long-haul Travel Barometer by the European Travel Commission (ETC), the appetite for travel to Europe from several source markets remains below pre-pandemic levels. Nevertheless, it has improved slightly compared to last year.

Although the Russia-Ukraine conflict has created new challenges for the European tourism sector, it appears to have had a limited impact on most long-haul source markets, with the exception of China and Russia, with 76% of respondents stating that the conflict has had no impact on their travel intentions. The results show that concerns about COVID-19, travel costs and lack of convenient connections are the main deterrents to long-haul travel this summer.

In the short term, 60% of Russians surveyed do not plan to travel outside the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Of the 20% who intend to travel, but not to Europe, 9% said that the current situation has had a negative impact on their interest in visiting Europe in the coming months, while 7% still consider the region an attractive destination and would like to visit in the future. At the same time, the ongoing conflict has deterred 19% of Chinese travellers from visiting Europe. Nevertheless, the desire to visit Europe has increased slightly compared to last summer. In particular, the attractiveness of European cities has increased.

The US Travel Sentiment Index has remained stable compared to last summer but the desire to visit Europe has deteriorated slightly due to inflation and rising travel costs. June and August are likely to be the most popular months for Americans planning a European holiday. However, more than half of Americans looking to travel to Europe this summer have not yet booked their flights, suggesting an upward trend in last-minute bookings. Canadians are also hesitant about when to take their next European holiday, with only 30% having booked their flights for the summer of 2022. While Canadian tourists want to visit France, they also express a strong interest in Italy and the UK.

Brazilian tourists, on the other hand, are much more likely to travel to Europe, with 1 in 2 Brazilians planning to visit Europe in the next four months. Of these people, 45% have already booked their plane tickets. They prefer coastal destinations as well as trips to the mountains. Conversely, the Japanese seem much less enthusiastic about the idea of long-haul travel in the coming months. The desire to visit Europe is slightly higher than last year, but only 14% of respondents intend to make a trip to the region in the summer of 2022. 41% of respondents cited poor connections between Japan and Europe as the main deterrent to visiting Europe. For those willing to make longer trips to Europe, Italy, France, Germany and the UK remain the most attractive destinations.

Just like French tourists, international travellers are ready to spend more this summer in order to treat themselves to unique and off-the-beaten-track holidays, according to Evaneos' observations. A desire that comes with a certain cost, with the average basket rising from 4,987 euros in 2021 to 7,144 euros for the summer of 2022. The increase in this budget can be explained in particular by a significant change in the clientele. Indeed, in 2021 the majority of bookings were made by couples over 50, whereas this year it is groups of friends and families with young children who are in the majority. In terms of destinations, Greece, Italy and the USA are leading the way in terms of bookings.

According to the latest figures shared by Weekendesk, the number of bookings for the upcoming summer period would have exceeded that recorded in 2019. In fact, its sales level is already 25% higher than 2019 figures. July has seen the biggest increase in bookings at 59%, followed by August at 41%, and this trend is expected to continue as we approach summer with the rise in last minute bookings. The average price has risen in line with the increase in length of stay, which has risen by 25%. In addition, travellers are no longer content to book half-board packages, but are looking for more comprehensive packages that include leisure and wellness activities.

 

This is a very encouraging outlook and is evidence of the effective recovery of tourism worldwide. Peter Kern, CEO of Expedia Group, says that the summer of 2022 will be "the busiest travel season ever" and that 2023 will be the year when we stop predicting a recovery in travel and actually start enjoying it. This is backed up by figures shared by the UNWTO, which predicts a gradual recovery in activity throughout this year, despite a complicated geopolitical and economic context. The World Travel & Tourism Council shares this observation and has already announced that the economy resulting from tourism activity in France could even exceed pre-pandemic levels next year. Moreover, by the end of the year, the sector's contribution to GDP is expected to increase by 24.3% to more than 200 billion euros, or 7.8% of total economic GDP.

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