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Friday,  May 24, 2024 2:53 AM 

Europe’s tourism rebound is strong, but remains uneven, says ETC

  • Other
  •   11-12-2023  10:02 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Europe’s tourism rebound is strong, but remains uneven, says ETC
(Shutterstock/Iryna Kalamurza)
Pax Global Media

The European Travel Commission (ETC) has released its latest year-to-date data on Europe’s post-COVID recovery, revealing that international tourist arrivals were just 3.2 per cent below 2019 levels, while nights were down by 1.3 per cent for the January-September period.

The rebound is being driven by resilient intra-European travel and the influx of U.S. tourists benefitting from favourable exchange rates, the ETC reports.

This is according to the latest edition of the “European Tourism Trends & Prospects” quarterly report released Nov. 7 by the ETC, which provides an overview of Europe’s tourism performance.

Year-to-date data show that around one in three reporting destinations have surpassed 2019 levels of foreign arrivals.

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Europe’s recovery was mostly driven by Southern European and Mediterranean destinations, notably Serbia (+15%), Montenegro (+14%), Portugal (+11%), Türkiye (+8%), Malta, and Greece (both +7%).

However, around 65 per cent of reporting destinations are still below pre-pandemic figures, the ETC says.

Slower recoveries are particularly evident among Eastern European countries neighbouring Russia and Ukraine, and those that are normally reliant on Russian travellers. 

The Baltic countries have registered the sharpest declines: Estonia (-27%), Latvia (-30%), and Lithuania (-33%).

“Despite persistent economic and geopolitical challenges, it is encouraging to observe the ongoing rebound of European tourism,” stated Miguel Sanz, ETC’s president, in a statement. “However, we must acknowledge that the true measure of tourism success extends beyond the number of visitors and nights spent at a destination. It is essential to also consider and evaluate its impact on nature, local businesses, and the resident population. As Europe’s tourism industry recovers, we should strive to develop innovative, sustainable metrics to better define its overall health and progress.”

Full recovery by 2024?

European travel recovery remained resilient during the summer season, even amid challenges posed by inflation, the high costs of living, weather events and airline strikes.

Persistent geopolitical instability continues to have repercussions on Europe’s tourism outlook, the ETC says.

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The ongoing war in Ukraine still affects arrivals figures in Eastern Europe and the developing conflict in Israel poses risks going into the shoulder season, especially for destinations such as France, Türkiye and Romania which are popular with Israeli travellers.

At the same time, foreign arrivals to Europe are expected to continue recovering by the end of 2023, albeit at a slower pace, reaching 91 per cent of pre-COVID levels for the whole year.

ETC forecasts suggest that international tourist arrivals in Europe will reach 2019 levels by 2024, a year earlier than initially predicted.

Tourists favour affordability, off-peak travel

Due to high prices, tourists are now placing a greater emphasis on value for money when considering tourism products and experiences, the ETC says.

In particular, more travellers are opting for destinations that are perceived as more affordable.

Lower prices and favourable exchange rates are driving the tourism recovery in destinations such as Türkiye and Bulgaria, while popular package holiday destinations such as Portugal and Spain are also experiencing high demand.

The ETC says travellers are also increasingly employing a number of tactics to lower the overall cost of their holiday.

Many are opting to book their transportation and accommodation well in advance or considering off-peak trips in the shoulder season, the organizations says.

“Package holidays are also increasing in popularity as these afford the traveller confidence that all essential costs are already accounted for,” says the ETC.

The ETC’s report can be downloaded here.

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