Europe: a very dynamic tourism sector despite the context

3 min reading time

Published on 17/02/23 - Updated on 17/02/23

Tourisme europe

While Europe is facing a difficult context due to the war in Ukraine and a never-ending inflation, travellers do not seem to let themselves be impacted by these elements and maintain their stays in the Old Continent as underlined by the latest observation report published by the European Travel Commission.

The tourism recovery does not seem to be slowing down, quite the contrary. Indeed, 77% of European travellers intend to travel in the first 6 months of 2023. This represents a strong increase of 16% compared to last year's figures.

Travellers also show an increasing desire to travel outside their own country, with 63% of respondents now favouring international travel within Europe, up 13% on 2022.

Despite the financial context, the budget of European tourists is not decreasing. Thus, 37% of Europeans will still spend between €1,000 and €2,000 per person per trip for their next holiday, an increase of 6% compared to last year, and 19% of them will spend more than €2,000. These figures show how important travel is to Europeans, even in times of uncertainty on many fronts.

However, the economic situation is a concern for travellers. The rising cost of travel is a concern for 23% of Europeans, while 18% say their personal finances and economic situation are worrying. In order to address this financial issue, 44% are booking their holidays further in advance, an increase of 7% compared to 2022, and affordable destinations are attracting attention.

Another behavioural change is in spending habits during travel. 18% of those surveyed plan to cut back on their on-the-go purchases, book cheaper accommodation and choose more affordable restaurants to stay within their holiday budget. Buying all-inclusive packages and visiting fewer paid attractions are also considered by 12% and 10% of respondents, respectively.

Recent figures show that travel remains a top priority for Europeans in the first half of 2023. This is good news, especially considering that a large proportion of planned travel is within Europe. These trends paint an encouraging picture for the industry this year, and demonstrate its resilience in the face of global economic challenges. Now, to capitalise on consumer confidence and advance bookings, the industry must closely monitor and anticipate changes in consumer needs and adapt its offerings accordingly. 

Luís Araújo, President of the European Travel Commission

Based on 2022 data, the Commission says that this rebound in tourism activity is expected to continue in 2023, but at a slower pace. Going forward, international travel to Europe is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels in 2025, while domestic travel will fully recover in 2024.

For example, this data compared to 2019 shows that almost every other European destination has recovered more than 80% of its pre-pandemic foreign arrivals. In addition, the re-opening of Asia-Pacific countries will boost travel flows to Europe in 2023.

Overall, southern Mediterranean destinations showed the fastest recovery at the end of the year. High prices boosted the appeal of more affordable destinations. Luxembourg (-4%), Serbia (-6%), Greece (-6%) and Portugal (-7%) are also approaching 2019 levels.

The slowest destinations to recover are in Eastern Europe due to the war in Ukraine and the lack of Russian visitors in destinations heavily reliant on this market. The largest declines are in Finland (-38%), Lithuania, Latvia and Romania (all -42%).

Looking ahead to 2023, we expect the European tourism sector to continue its strong rebound. With European short-haul travel well on the way to recovery, the focus of the tourism industry is now on long-haul arrivals. We can look forward to the long-awaited return of visitors from Asia-Pacific in the coming months. As the industry navigates the many challenges it faces this year, it is vital that the sector continues to be responsive to consumer demand, enhancing the visitor experience at destination and targeting markets and segments less affected by the economic downturn. 

Luís Araújo, President of the European Travel Commission

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