Demand for Summer Travel in Europe Fully Recovers to Pre-Pandemic Levels


ForwardKeys, ETOA’s partner and leading travel intelligence provider, today announced its summer outlook for 2024, revealing a robust recovery in demand for summer travel across Europe. This positive trend signifies a full return to pre-pandemic travel levels, with notable shifts in traveller preferences.

ETOA, the European Tourism Association, welcomes this positive news, and is pleased to share this insight with its membership.

London Most Searched Destination Amidst Paris Olympics Buzz

Analysis of flight searches from January to April 2024 shows London (5% share of flight searches for travel to Europe) benefits from the greatest relative increase in share of searches for travel in summer 2024 (+1.9 percentage points), driven by the collateral excitement of the Paris Olympics, with easily available transport links to the French capital. Paris itself shows similar popularity (+0.5 percentage points increase), although its share of searches is slightly lower as many visitors to the Games will have planned direct travel further in advance. Istanbul (+0.4 p.p.), Rome (+0.7 p.p.) and Milan (+0.7 p.p.) gain in relative popularity while destinations in Spain, Greece and Portugal (including Athens, Lisbon, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca) lose ground after enjoying great demand in the post-COVID years – reflecting shifting preferences among European travellers.

Most popular European destinations in summer 2024

However, some destinations are bucking this trend, including Tenerife (+0.41 p.p.) and Izmir (+0.25 p.p.), which are witnessing the largest surge in interest among mid-tier destinations. Growing interest in Northern European cities Reykjavik (+0.21 p.p.) and Munich (+0.15 p.p.) reflects the popularity of destinations with cooler summer temperatures among holidaymakers. In Eastern Europe, Tirana (+0.07 p.p.), continues to grow in popularity, building on success in recent years, and is joined by Yerevan (+0.03 p.p.) and Tbilisi (+0.09 p.p.) – popular among both European and Russian tourists, due to the combination of natural and cultural heritage available and affordable prices.

Analysis of forward ticketing data for travel to European city destinations in July and August 2024 reveals a shift in consumer preferences towards nature (+19%) and urban (+14%) destinations over traditional sun and beach destinations (+8%). This is reflected at a subregional level as year-on-year growth in international arrivals to Central/Eastern Europe (+25%), Western Europe (+15%) and Northern Europe (+13%) outstrips that to destinations in Southern Europe (+11%).

Summer 2024 inbound travel outlook for Europe

Outbound travel from Europe is also displaying clear trends, with year-on-year growth in intra-European (+14%) and long-haul travel to a diverse range of Asian markets (+16%). Forward ticket data for July and August indicates that European travellers are increasingly choosing to venture further afield to explore the landscapes and cultures of Beijing (+132%) in particular, as well as Osaka (+66%), Bangkok (+21%), Colombo (+21%), and Kuala Lumpur (+14%). These destinations benefit from various factors, including improved connectivity, visa waivers for Europeans entering China, and the favourable Euro to Yen exchange rate. Moderate growth in demand for US markets Chicago (+14%) and Miami (+9%) is also notable.

Summer 2024 outbound travel outlook from Europe

Overall, the picture is positive for destinations worldwide looking to attract lucrative European tourism over the coming years. With the disruption to demand and bookings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic now firmly in the past, the 2024 summer season looks likely to set a new benchmark for European travel both within the region and beyond.” – Olivier Ponti, Director of Intelligence and Marketing at ForwardKeys

European Outbound Travellers Focus on Asian Destinations

It is a huge relief to finally be able to move forward with new travel trends, free of the shadow of the pandemic. The return in demand for urban destinations is a most welcome development, and it is encouraging to see our predictions of the halo effect of the Paris Olympics for London being borne out in the data. I look forward to discussing these trends further during our joint webinar with ForwardKeys in June.” – Rachel Read, Director of Insight at ETOA

Founded in 1989 and based in Brussels and London, ETOA is the trade association for tour operators selling in global markets and the European supply chain and destinations. From international brands to local independent businesses, its membership includes 370 tour operators, online platforms, intermediaries and wholesalers, and over 700 hotels, attractions, technology companies, DMOs, NTOs, and other service providers.

ForwardKeys is a leader in travel intelligence, leveraging comprehensive data to provide actionable insights for the travel industry. By analysing flight searches, bookings, and other travel-related data, ForwardKeys enables businesses to understand and anticipate traveller behaviour, helping them to make informed decisions and optimise their strategies.