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Financial pressures shape Europeans’ travel plans in late 2023 and early 2024

Financial pressures shape Europeans’ travel plans in late 2023 and early 2024
  • 68% of surveyed Europeans intend to travel in the next six months, marking a 2% decrease compared to last year.
  • Tourists embrace money-saving strategies and off-season travel in the face of rising prices.
  • Nevertheless, 71% of Europeans are choosing to either maintain or boost their travel expenditures.

According to the European Travel Commission’s (ETC) latest report, ‘Monitoring Sentiment for Domestic and Intra-European Travel[1],’ 68% of surveyed Europeans plan to travel between October 2023 and March 2024. This represents a slight drop of 2% compared to the same period last year.

Respondents from Spain and Italy are the most eager to travel, with 75% likely to take a trip before March 2024. Enthusiasm is also high among British and Polish survey respondents (both 73%).

The majority of European travellers are planning either a leisure trip (69%) or intend to visit family and friends (15%). There is also a slight increase in business travel, with 8% planning to travel for work, marking a 3% rise compared to one year ago.

Commenting on the findings, Miguel Sanz, President of ETC, said: We are very glad to see that European travellers continue to prioritise their travel spend, even in light of ongoing worries about increasing travel costs and personal finances. The current trends present an optimistic outlook for European tourism in the coming months, demonstrating its resilience to global economic challenges. To take full advantage of consumer confidence, the industry should carefully monitor and anticipate changes in consumer preferences and adjust its offerings accordingly’’.

Travellers aim to maximise their holiday experience despite financial concerns

Amid rising travel costs, financial pressures are impacting European travellers’ behaviour before and during their trips. 22% of respondents cited rising costs as their greatest concern surrounding travel, while 16% are worried about their personal finances.

In order to minimise the effects of financial constraints, travellers are placing great importance on affordability while planning a holiday. 22% of survey respondents are interested in off-season travel, 13% consider visiting more affordable destinations, and a further 13% plan to take advantage of early bookings of flights and activities. At the time of the survey, only 22% of travellers had fully booked their trip, with 23% leaving some of their options open for transportation or accommodation. This may indicate a desire to benefit from last-minute deals.

European travellers are also showing high interest in money-saving strategies while at their destinations. 17% of survey respondents plan to reduce shopping, 15% say that they will spend less on accommodation and dining and 12% plan to take advantage of public transportation or bike rental services.

Despite these financial concerns, Europeans still have a high enthusiasm for travel. 71% intend to maintain or increase their usual travel budget during the coming months. Intention to take multiple trips is high (54%), and the number of Europeans planning to spend more than €1,500 per trip has increased significantly (+7%) compared to last year.

Weather plays a central role in shaping Europeans’ travel plans

Climate conditions have an established importance on where Europeans choose to travel. Pleasant weather continues to be the top criterion for choosing a destination, cited by 19% of respondents as the most important factor.

Meanwhile, Europeans are becoming more concerned about the impact of extreme weather events on their travel plans. 14% now cite this as their primary concern, marking a 7% increase since the previous survey conducted in May 2023.

Environmental concerns may also be influencing Europeans’ choice of transport while travelling. Though flights remain the top choice for half of those surveyed (50%), a growing number of Europeans are opting for greener modes of transport. 17% of European travellers plan to take a train or bus during their next trip, a notable rise of 5% from the year before. Meanwhile, the number of travellers planning to drive during their holiday has dropped by 7%.

This project is co-funded by the European Union.

Full summary can be downloaded here

[1] Wave 17 features data collected in September 2023. The survey is conducted in: Germany, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Poland, and Austria