In 2023, Europe is experiencing a real tourist boom. During the pandemic, Europeans were thirsty for travel and vacations, and now they are catching up. Despite inflation in the Eurozone, recession in Germany, heat and fires in the Mediterranean, this year hotels, tour operators, airlines and airports in the EU have achieved good and even record figures – and at a time when the number of Russian tourists has sharply decreased and the flow of Chinese tourists have not yet recovered.
The Germans are still travel champions
The most important role was played by tourists from Germany – the country with the largest population in the EU, which is also the most traveled in Europe. Market leader, travel giant TUI, has sold 10% more holiday packages than last year. And 80% of customers chose four- and five-star hotels, DER Touristik calculated, analyzing holidays booked between June and the end of September.
“We see that the trends of last summer and last winter, such as the choice of better quality hotels, are being maintained and even strengthened,” explains DER Touristik manager Sven Šikarski to DPA. Another important trend indicates that the popularity of family vacations and all-inclusive hotels continues to grow. This summer, 45% of DER customers preferred such hotels. Among TUI customers, they were even more than half.
The boom will obviously continue this winter. TUI reports that the number of bookings for the upcoming cold months is 15% higher than last year. The most popular winter destination is Hurghada in Egypt, and only the Canary Islands combined have more bookings.
Ryanair holds the passenger record
But it’s not only travel agency data on organized travel that speaks of a boom. In Europe, many people travel independently – especially when it’s for a short time, for example to explore popular cities and their attractions. The largest low-cost carrier in Europe, the Irish airline Ryanair, recorded a record number of passengers for its entire history in the months of July and August 2023. In the last month of summer, Ryanair carried a record 18.9 million passengers, which is not only 12% more than the same month a year ago, but also 4 million more than August 2019. The Irish company has already far surpassed its pre-pandemic levels.
The financial results of both the low-cost carriers – for example the German Eurowings and the British EasyJet – and the classic airlines have improved significantly. This applies both to the German Lufthansa with its subsidiaries Swiss and Austrian Airlines, and to the French-Dutch Air France KLM and the British-Spanish IAG, which includes British Airways and Iberia.
The growth in revenue and profits of all these airlines is due to tourists, as 80% of air travelers not only in Europe, but everywhere in the world, fly privately and on holiday rather than for business purposes, the German association said of ADV airports, referring to a representative worldwide survey.
In July, at the height of the holiday season, Germany’s 23 international airports sent and received nearly 20 million passengers. It was the best month since the start of 2020, although pre-pandemic levels have not yet been reached. But compared to last year, passenger traffic at German airports increased by almost 25% between January and July, Germany’s Federal Statistical Office said. And this despite the fact that tickets for international flights have become more expensive in the first half of 2023 by about a quarter compared to the same period last year.
The most popular destinations for German tourists in July were Spain, Turkey and Greece. The comparison with July 2019 shows that the demand for Spanish destinations in Germany has decreased, while the popularity of Turkish and Greek resorts has increased significantly.
Overall, Greece is shaping up to have the best tourism year in its history. In all previous months, the number of passengers at airports in the mainland and on the islands was about 10% higher than in the record pre-pandemic 2019, when the country welcomed 33 million tourists and thanks to them realized unprecedented revenues of 18 billion euros.
Record 6 months for European hotels
The boom experienced by tourism in Europe this year also affects the results of hotels. In the first half of 2023 (and the winter-spring half is always weaker than the summer-autumn), hotels in the EU registered almost 1.2 billion overnight stays. This is an increase of 0.9% compared to the first six months of the successful pre-Covid 2019 and the best indicator for the period in a decade, the EU statistics office Eurostat said.
The report highlights that, compared to 2022, the number of overnight stays has increased in all EU countries, with the exception of Hungary, where a slight decline was recorded. Cyprus, Malta and Slovakia recorded particularly strong growth of 30-40%. Hotels in Germany have approached the 2019 level in terms of overnight stays, but have not yet exceeded it. In 2024, however, it will certainly happen – not least because in June-July Germany will host the European Men’s Football Championship, so hotels in at least ten cities hosting Euro 2024 can expect very high rates of employment.
Paris will host the Summer Olympics in July-August 2024, which will certainly give a powerful boost to the French tourism industry, but may also have a positive impact on neighboring countries. After all, fans from all over the world are likely to take advantage of their arrival in Europe to visit other countries on the continent as well.
The Chinese dream of traveling to Europe
The tourist boom in Europe will grow in the coming months – and especially in the summer of 2024, also due to the fact that China is lifting the restrictions imposed on its citizens during the pandemic. Excursion bans to Germany and the United Kingdom were already lifted on August 10, with Chinese authorities previously opening the doors to France and Portugal. The Chinese are champions of tourist travel.
According to a survey by IPK International, a consultancy specializing in the field of the global tourism market, more than 80% of respondents in China said they plan to travel abroad in the next 12 months, with Europe showing the greatest interest.
Source: Deutsche Welle