EUROPEAN TOURISM DISPLAYED ENCOURAGING RESILIENCE THIS SUMMER, ALTHOUGH UNEVEN ACROSS DESTINATIONS
Despite financial pressures, tourists continue to prioritise travel spending over other discretionary expenses. As a result, European travel demand continued to approach pre-pandemic levels, with foreign arrivals now at -3.2% compared to 2019, based on data from TourMIS covering January to September. This upward performance has been mainly driven by intra-European travel and the influx of US travellers leveraging favourable exchange rates.
Some divergence was apparent across destinations in terms of tourism rebound this summer. Year-to-date data show that around 1 in 3 destinations have surpassed 2019 levels of foreign arrivals.
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% of reporting destinations have still not reached pre-pandemic levels of arrivals to date.
Climate-related challenges such as heatwaves, wildfires, and floods hit tourism hotspots this summer, stressing the need for transformation in the industry to battle climate change. Other risks to Europe’s tourism outlook include the continued struggle against inflation, the war in Ukraine and weaker-than-expected growth in the eurozone, despite falling energy prices and healthy labour markets. Nevertheless, foreign arrivals to Europe are expected to pick up by the end of 2023, albeit at a slower pace, reaching 91% of pre-pandemic levels. Projections indicate international tourist arrivals to Europe will achieve 2019 levels by 2024, a year earlier than expected.