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European Travel Enthusiasm Soars Despite Cost Concerns


Long-haul travelers are showing enthusiasm to explore European destinations this summer, with travel intention from key markers remaining steady or seeing an increase compared to last year. Interest in traveling to Europe has particularly surged in China. 

Despite concerns about high travel costs and inflated airfares, 74% of Chinese survey respondents intend to visit a European destination between September and December 2023. This represents a notable 10% increase since the same period last year and an increase of 9% compared to autumn 2019, the last travel period before China closed its borders to travel. Travel enthusiasm also increased slightly in the U.S. (+3%) and Canada (+2%), despite rising inflation.

In Australia and Brazil, intention to travel to Europe declined slightly compared to last year. Australia recorded a 3% decrease, possibly due to increased interest in exploring other destinations and the Southern Hemisphere’s summer season, making domestic travel more attractive for them. Brazil also recorded a 3% decrease, but sentiment remains strong in this market, with over half (52%) of respondents expressing a desire to travel to Europe.

Towards the end of 2023, European tourism continued its robust recovery, nearing pre-pandemic levels despite inflationary pressures. Across reporting destinations, foreign tourist arrivals stand at 1.6% below 2019 figures, with nights 0.6% below, showcasing a resilient travel demand across the continent – a trend that is expected to continue into 2024. 

This is according to the latest edition of the European Tourism Trends & Prospects’ quarterly report released today by the European Travel Commission (ETC), which looks at the region’s tourism performance and economic indicators over the last months of 2023.

 The recovery is fueled by strong intra-European travel, primarily from Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Long-haul arrivals are also bouncing back, but at a slower pace and showing significant variations between regions such as the Asia-Pacific and North America.

Commenting following the publication of the report, Miguel Sanz, ETC’s President, said: “The high travel demand seen in 2023 provided a significant boost to European economies and will help improve the balance sheets of tourism companies, which were hard hit by travel restrictions. However, the return to pre-pandemic levels will also put pressure to accelerate the sustainable transition of the travel industry.”

“We are working to develop new indicators monitoring social and environmental factors that will contribute to producing tourism strategies to measure not only the growth of the industry but also its impact on the environment, local communities, and businesses”, he added.

European travel remained resilient in the last months of 2023, with two-thirds of destinations reporting either a full recovery or recording arrivals and/or overnights within 10% of pre-pandemic levels. Among these, Southern European destinations continue to be the frontrunners, boosted by favorable weather extending into the shoulder season.

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