With a growing number of European tour operators, hotels and airlines breaking records in the tourism sector, and China lifting restrictions on overseas travel, the tourism boom is set to continue in 2024.
During the pandemic, Europeans were hungry for travel, comfortable holidays and excursions, and neither inflation nor even fires in the Mediterranean could keep them at home. The peculiarity of the current boom is that the European tourism industry has achieved record figures in a situation where the number of Russian tourists has sharply decreased, and there are still very few Chinese tourists. Germany played perhaps the key role in this situation. Summing up the season, the dpa news agency writes:
“The Germans didn’t skimp on their summer vacation.”
TUI, the travel giant and market leader, sold 10% more tours in Germany than in 2022. At the same time, the majority of its clients (80%) chose four- and five-star hotels, states its largest competitor DER Touristik, based on an analysis of trips booked for the period from June to the end of September. DER Touristik manager Sven Szykarski says:
“We see that the trends from last summer and last winter, for example, the choice of better quality hotels, have continued and even intensified. Other trends are the further increase in the popularity of family holidays and all-inclusive hotels.”
Such hotels were preferred by 45% of the group’s clients this summer, and among TUI clients they were more than 50%. Autumn does not foretell a calm – the summer boom will clearly continue in winter. TUI has 15% more travel booked for the coming colder months than it did at the same time last year. For the first time, the most popular was the Egyptian Hurghada, but if we consider together the main Canary Islands – Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, then they consistently occupy first place in the winter season.
All this applies to organized tourism, writes dw, however, for short-term trips, travelers often choose independent routes using discount airlines (unless, of course, they travel by car). About the boom in the urban tourism segment in EU their performance shows.
The largest European low-cost airline, Irish Ryanair, had the best July and August 2023 in the company’s history in terms of the number of passengers. It carried a record 18.9 million passengers in August, up 12% from the same month a year ago and 4 million more than in August 2019. Thus, Ryanair’s passenger traffic has already significantly exceeded pre-pandemic levels.
The significant growth of tourists throughout Europe is eloquently demonstrated by the quarterly and semi-annual reports published in recent weeks by a number of air carriers. Financial performance has improved significantly for both low-cost airlines (German Eurowings and British EasyJet) and classic airlines: German Lufthansa with its subsidiaries Swiss and Austrian Airlines, French-Dutch Air France KLM, British-Spanish group IAG, which includes British Airways and Iberia, and Irish AerLingus. It was tourists who provided the growth in revenue and profit for these airlines, the publication assures.
The increase in demand for flights was also reflected in the performance of European airports. In July, 23 international German airports sent and received over 19.4 million passengers. Compared to last year, passenger traffic at German airports increased by almost 25% from January to July, the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reported. Even though, as German statisticians have calculated, tickets for international flights have risen in price in the first half of 2023 by about 25% compared to the same period last year.
Greece is looking forward to a better tourism year. Even the abnormal heat did not deter tourists from all over the world from visiting the ancient Greek temple of the Parthenon in Athens in the summer of 2023. Among German tourists, the most popular destinations in July, according to Destatis, were Greece, Spain and Turkey. But a comparison with July 2019 shows that demand for the Spanish destination in Germany has decreased, while the popularity of Turkish and Greek resorts has increased markedly.
In Greece, this tourist season is likely to be the best in history. In all previous months, the number of passengers at airports on the mainland and islands was approximately 10% higher than in the record pre-pandemic 2019, when the country welcomed 33 million visitors and, thanks to them, earned an unprecedented income of 18 billion euros.
Hotel indicators also indicate the 2023 tourism boom in Europe. In the first half of the year, hotels in EU countries recorded almost 1.2 billion overnight stays. This is 0.9% more than in the first six months of the successful pre-Covid 2019, and the best figure for the period in the last ten years, Eurostat reported on September 15.
Compared to 2022, the number of overnight stays increased in all EU countries except Hungary, which showed a slight decrease. Particularly strong growth of 30-40% was demonstrated by Cyprus, Malta and Slovakia.
The Summer Olympic Games will take place in Paris in July-August 2024, which will certainly give a powerful boost to France’s tourism industry, but could also have a positive impact on its neighbors. After all, it is likely that fans from different parts of the world will take advantage of their visit to Europe to visit other countries of the continent.
The tourism boom in Europe will increase in the coming months and especially in the summer of 2024, also because China is lifting restrictions on group trips of its citizens abroad imposed during the pandemic. On August 10, the bans on tours to Germany and the UK were lifted; before that, the Chinese authorities opened France and Portugal.
According to a survey published on September 19 by consulting company IPK International, which specializes in studying the global tourism market, over 80% of respondents in China said they planned to travel abroad in the next 12 months, with the greatest interest not in other Asian countries, but in Europe .