European Travel Expenditure to Hit Record Numbers in 2024

European Travel Expenditure to Hit Record Numbers in 2024

Europe’s tourism industry is experiencing a robust recovery in the first months of 2024, according to research by the European Travel Commission (ETC).

The “European Tourism Trends & Prospects” quarterly report monitors the performance of European tourism in the first quarter of the year and the macroeconomic and geopolitical factors impacting the industry’s outlook on the continent.

Foreign arrivals (+7.2%) and overnights (+6.5%) in the first quarter of the year surpassed the pre-COVID 2019 figures. The recovery is largely driven by strong intra-regional travel fuelled by Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. This is coupled with demand from the US, which continues to be Europe’s most important long-haul source market.

Commenting on the report’s publication, Miguel Sanz, ETC’s President, said: “The early figures for 2024 reveal a positive outlook for European tourism this year. Consumer travel spending is set to rise notably across Europe, hitting record numbers in the coming months. This boost will support the travel and tourism businesses heavily impacted by the pandemic years and ongoing economic instability. Still, high prices and geopolitical risks remain key hurdles for tourism, as the sector as a whole also strives to adopt more responsible practices to benefit the locals and preserve the environment.”

Disparities Remain

Year-to-date data shows that destinations in Southern Europe are leading the recovery in terms. This includes Serbia (+47% in international arrivals), Bulgaria (+39%), Türkiye (+35%), Malta (+35%), Portugal (+17%), and Spain (+14%). Nordic countries are also registering an uptake in tourist activity, as overnight stays grew above pre-pandemic levels. This increase is particularly evident for Norway (+18%), Sweden (+12%), and Denmark (+9%). This high interest is partially driven by winter sports tourism and the allure of the Northern Lights, the report notes.

Meanwhile, the Baltic region continues to lag behind due to challenges caused by the war in Ukraine, with Latvia registering the lowest post-pandemic international arrivals (-34%), followed by Estonia (-15%) and Lithuania (-14%).

Data from the first few months of 2024 also shows an uneven long-haul source market performance. The US and Canada continue to dominate, mirroring trends from 2023. There was also an increase in travellers from Latin America. Conversely, though the APAC region shows signs of improvement compared to last quarter, recovery remains modest and uneven. While Chinese travellers are beginning to return to Europe, recovery from Japan is still slow, ETC says.

Olympics and Euros Expected to Drive Demand

The main attraction this summer will be the two major sporting events in Europe: the Olympic Games in France, and the UEFA European Football Championship in Germany. The Olympics are expected to attract a surge in domestic and international tourists, with the impacts extending beyond the city of Paris itself. Inbound spending growth is projected at 13% for Paris and 24% for all of France on 2019 levels. The Euros will be less concentrated in the German capital, with games taking place across ten cities. This is expected to offer a more dispersed benefit, with all participating cities poised to experience a significant rise in tourism revenue.

The full report is available here:https://etc-corporate.org/reports/european-tourism-2024-trends-prospects-q1-2024/

Cover photo: Pexels

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