HomeCOVID Travel NewsTourism in the EU fell by 77% - Greece and Croatia among...

Tourism in the EU fell by 77% – Greece and Croatia among the most successful destinations

Tourism across all EU member states is down 77% from pre-pandemic levels, with those dependent on long-haul markets or islands hit hardest.

International tourist arrivals in Europe are expected to decline by 60 percent by the end of the year, according to the European Tourism Council (ETC). Moreover, while demand for travel in the EU has recovered slightly, the pre-pandemic level is expected to reach no earlier than 2024.

As the first country to open its borders to vaccinated travelers, Greece has seen the largest number of overnight stays; this is only 19% less than in 2019, but the number of foreign tourists was relatively low.

The EU countries with the highest arrivals were recorded mainly in the South East Europe region. Croatia welcomed 1.9 million tourists in September, down 37 percent from pre-pandemic levels.

Other countries experiencing a decline in arrivals are Montenegro, with a 44% decline compared to 2019, Luxembourg (-45%) and Monaco (-46%). On the other hand, the Czech Republic recorded the lowest recession in the EU, about -94% less than in the pre-pandemic period, thanks to the tough COVID-19 measures in place throughout the year.

In addition, Europe saw a decline in air traffic during the summer season, an average of 58 percent from pre-pandemic levels, although revenue from passenger turnover per kilometer (RPK) was half of 2019 standards.

The improvement in the tourism situation noted in the summer months was due to the demand for domestic air travel and the creation of the EU digital COVID certificate. Compared to the 2020 activity level, hotel occupancy in Europe was the lowest in the world, reaching only 10.5 percent. On the other hand, the average daily rates (ADR) increased by 6.5 percent, which contributed to a 17.7 percent increase in revenue per vacant number.

Moreover, Eduardo Santander, Director of ETC, noted that international travel could be possible again.

“This summer season in Europe has proven it well. Therefore, EU countries should move towards a risk-based approach for travelers, rather than the ‘country-to-country’ approach that is currently used. International travel should be fully resumed on the same conditions as within the EU: based on vaccination, recovery or a negative test for COVID-19, ”Santander said.

A key role in tourism was played by American travelers, who were allowed to enter several EU member states despite the US ban on entering the EU. Nonetheless, American arrivals in Europe remain 90 percent below 2019 levels in a third of destinations. Americans mostly visited tourist destinations in the Southern Mediterranean, with Greece having the fastest growth in US arrivals, just 38 percent less than in 2019.

The lack of Chinese holidaymakers was felt in EU member states, as all destinations reported more than 90 percent declines from 2019.

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