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Europe’s tourism sees strong recovery in 2024: What do you need to know? – Travel And Tour World



Europe’s tourism sees strong recovery in 2024: What do you need to know? – Travel And Tour World

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Europe’s tourism industry continued its recovery in the second quarter of 2024.

Foreign arrivals (+6%) and overnights (+7%) surpassed 2019 figures, reflecting a year-on-year increase of 12% and 10%, respectively.

The growth is propelled by robust intra-regional travel from Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.

This is according to the latest edition of the ‘European Tourism Trends & Prospects’ quarterly report released today by the European Travel Commission (ETC).

This report monitors the performance of European tourism in the second quarter of 2024, providing a comprehensive analysis of the region’s latest tourism and macroeconomic developments.

Commenting on the report’s publication, Miguel Sanz, ETC’s President, said: “It is encouraging to see the increasing diversification of the European tourism landscape this quarter.

This benefits both emerging destinations and established hotspots that may potentially face overcrowding.

Furthermore, growing tourist numbers in lesser-known areas will help small businesses still recovering from the pandemic or struggling with rising operational costs due to the current economic context.

We welcome a more balanced spread of tourism across Europe, contributing to the increasing sustainability of our industry.”

Established and emerging Southern European destinations maintain appeal

Year-to-date data indicates that both traditional and non-traditional Southern European and Mediterranean destinations continue to be the most popular choices for tourists in Europe.

Notable increases in arrivals compared to 2019 levels were recorded in lesser-known destinations such as Serbia (+40%) and Bulgaria (+29%), as well as long-standing favourites including Malta (+37%), Portugal (+26%) and Türkiye (+22%).

The ongoing success of these destinations is partially due to their common offer of value-for-money experiences and generally favourable weather conditions.

The Nordic countries also show growing appeal, with foreign overnights up in Denmark (+38%), Norway (+18%) and Sweden (+9%).

This indicates increasing success outside Southern Europe and in destinations that are relatively more expensive.

Conversely, the Baltic region continues to struggle, with Latvia (-24%), Estonia (-16%), and Lithuania (-15%) still experiencing international arrivals well below 2019.

Tourism faces rising costs, but expenditure grows

Significant challenges continue to affect the travel sector. Tourism professionals cite rising costs of accommodation, business operations, and flights, along with staffing shortages, as major issues.

Despite their ongoing impact, these challenges have lessened compared to the previous quarter.

Increases in business costs have led to a general rise in travel expenditure.

Visitors are expected to spend €800.5 billion in Europe this year, up 13.7% since last year.

This results from increased operating prices, the return of high-spending tourists from the APAC region, and strong demand from events and blended business-leisure travel.

The accommodation sector especially benefitted in the first half of the year with revenue per available room up 5.4% and occupancy rates up 1.8%.

The most significant increases in inbound spending for the year-to-date are in Spain (25%), Greece (25%), Italy (20%), and France (16%).

Other countries such as Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania expect to see longer average stays in 2024 than the previous year, which will also result in increased tourism revenue.

Search for value, return of Asian markets and rail travel drive diversification

The report identifies an increasing diversification of European tourism, with emerging destinations and source markets growing their market share.

Contributing factors include the search for value-for-money in non-traditional destinations, the return of travellers from the Asia-Pacific region, and the increasing availability of rail travel.

Though the US remains the best-performing long-haul source market, there is a notable uptake from East Asian markets, especially China.

European cities are proving a particular draw for Chinese visitors, as China is expected to become the fastest-growing source market for city destinations in 2025, overtaking the US.

There is also an increase in the number of travellers choosing off-season travel and lesser-known destinations, driven by the search for value-for-money and unique, authentic experiences.

Notably, Albania and Montenegro have witnessed a remarkable rise in market share, up 86% and 31% respectively, since 2019.

Increasing interest in travelling off the beaten track is also reflected in online conversations about European travel, which highlighted the appeal of natural island settings such as Madeira in Portugal and Magerøya in Norway.

Both of these countries saw a corresponding increase in arrivals and overnights.

Sustainability was a key positive reputation driver for destinations this quarter while more negative discourse focussed on the social and environmental impacts of overcrowding in traditional tourism hotspots.

At the same time, the growth of rail capacity is opening the door for travellers to explore new experiences and destinations.

Germany’s national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, saw a 21% increase in international routes between 2019 and 2023, primarily benefitting neighbouring countries.

Eurostar services have returned to pre-pandemic passenger levels, and Spanish rail operator Renfe reported selling 500,000 tickets within six months of launching its international line to France.

All three of these operators have plans to expand capacity in the coming years, highlighting rail’s growing importance in European tourism.

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