HomeTourismTourism in Europe has almost reached pre-pandemic levels

Tourism in Europe has almost reached pre-pandemic levels

Four years ago, the coronavirus pandemic completely stopped world tourism. And only 2.5 years later, in October 2022, Spain was the last country in Europe to lift the COVID restrictions on entry.

In the summer season of 2023, tourists seem to have decided to “make up” for the three lost years of travel, and therefore, on popular European destinations, it was possible to observe unprecedented crowds of tourists. For example, in Croatia’s Dubrovnik, recognized as the most crowded city last year, there were 36 tourists for every resident.

And now official statistics from the European Tourist Commission (ETC) have appeared, which confirm that in 2023 tourism in Europe almost reached pre-pandemic levels – in the last quarter of 2023, the flow of foreign tourists to Europe was 1.6% lower than the indicators 2019, while the number of nights spent by foreign tourists in Europe was only 0.6% below pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, further growth is predicted in 2024.

“The high demand for travel seen in 2023 has provided a significant boost to the European economy and will help improve the balance sheets of travel companies that have been hit hard by travel restrictions. However, a return to pre-pandemic levels will also put pressure to accelerate the sustainable transition of the travel industry,” he commented—data from ETC president Miguel Sanz.

At the same time, the report indicates that destinations with a good price-quality ratio are currently in great demand. Thus, the largest increase in the number of earnings was observed in Serbia (+15%), Portugal (+11%), Montenegro (+10%), Turkey (+9%) and Malta (+8%).

On the other hand, Eastern European destinations bordering Russia, on the contrary, are still lagging in terms of tourism recovery: Lithuania (-32%), Latvia (-29%), Estonia (-27%), and Finland (-24%).

At the same time, the report emphasizes that there is a significant gap in terms of the pace of recovery of foreign trips among residents of various distant destinations. Thus, the number of tourists from China arriving in Europe in 2023 was still 67% below pre-pandemic levels, compared to an average of 22% less for all other long-haul markets.

Beyond capacity issues, Chinese travelers have remained risk-averse over the past year, favoring more domestic travel. In contrast, North American markets have seen a significant recovery, with two-thirds of European destinations reporting growth in arrivals and/or overnight stays from the US. At the same time, more than half said the same about Canada.

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