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September 2020: the European hotel industry falls back

After a slightly better summer, European tourist activity fell back again in September due to limited demand from corporate and individual business customers and to muted MICE & events activity.

After KPIs climbed slightly closer to 2019 standards in August (-36.5 points in OR; RevPAR down -54.6%), September's hotel activity once again slowed down. The occupancy rate was 44.1 points lower than in September 2019 and RevPAR went down by 68.0%. Business and event demand, which usually picks up in September, is in fact much more affected by COVID-19 than the leisure tourism that dominates in summer months.

In September, all European countries posted the first month-on-month decline in hotel performances since the end of their lockdowns. As its RevPAR fell by 60.3% from September 2019 marks, Germany converged with France, which retained its position as one of the most resilient destinations.

Indeed, the three countries that post the lowest decline compared to 2019 standards remain the same as in summer: months France with an OR decline by -33.5 points and RevPAR fall by -59.4%, Germany with -38.4 in OR and -60.3% in RevPAR and Poland with -42.0 points in OR and -63.9% in RevPAR. These three countries are significantly ahead of their peers: Greece is a distant #4, with a RevPAR evolution of -68.3% from September 2019. These 3 countries, which have large domestic markets, maintained their position ahead of other European destinations that suffered from the absence of major international events. These countries still benefit from the leisure demand from tourists who went on holiday in September i the shoulder season (retired people, working people without children, students with a late start to their school years...).

European cities that usually host the highest number of MICE events (congresses and trade fairs) are those that posted the biggest drop in RevPAR compared to last year's records. As illustrated in the table below, the cities (in red) that stand among the top 20 European cities in terms of hosting MICE events, according to the ICCA ranking, are those that suffered from the steepest year-on-year declines, whereas secondary towns in the same country (such as Dresden in Germany, Rouen in France...) are far more resilient:

Urban area RevPAR evolution   Urban area RevPAR evolution
Dresden -22.1%   Edinburgh -79.5%
Rouen -36.4%   Greater Paris -79.9%
Nantes -39.7%   Zurich -80.3%
Montpellier -40.6%   Milan -80.5%
Liège -48.8%   Vienna -80.6%
Marseille  -52.9%   Rome -82.9%
Oviedo -54.0%   Athens -84.6%
The Hague -55.8%   Lisbon -86.7%
Gdansk -56.3%   London -87.5%
Strasbourg -61.9%   Brussels -87.5%
Naples -66.5%   Madrid -90.3%
Rotterdam -68.6%   Amsterdam -90.3%
Berlin -74.9%   Prague -92.0%
Warsaw -74.9%   Barcelona -92.0%
Frankfurt -76.3%   Helsinki -92.8%
Birmingham -76.7%   Budapest -94.2%

In addition to the absence of events, the restrictive measures recently put in place by European governments to prevent a second wave of the pandemic will not encourage the resumption of travel: the relapse thus seems poised to worsen in October.

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