EU tourism sector has nearly recovered its strength this year, Source: Pixabay

European tourism has nearly recovered to pre-COVID levels

European tourism has nearly recovered to pre-COVID levels

Some reassuring news, and that doesn’t even take into account most of the summer stats

Today, 27 September, we celebrate World Tourism Day! And on account of that occasion, Eurostat has released a report that shows a refreshing trend – the EU tourism industry has rebounded almost to the levels it had in 2019 before the arrival of COVID.

The central factor that was used to study the recovery was the guest nights spent at tourist accommodation, meaning that day trips were excluded from the overall picture. The comparative periods used for the report were the first halves of the current and the past three years (January to June).

The domestic markets are still crucial for the sector

Compared with the first half year of 2019, before the pandemic hit the EU, the total number of nights spent in tourist accommodation in the first half year of 2022 was still inferior (1.01 billion in 2022 vs 1.18 billion in 2019) but to a lesser extent than in 2020 (474.7 million) and 2021 (406.8 million). This means a 14% decrease in 2022 compared with 2019, against 66% in 2021 and 60% in 2020. 

Compared with the first half year of 2021, in the same period of 2022, nights spent in tourist accommodation were up by 149%, with substantial increases in all six months. April was the month with the highest increase, up 302% compared with April 2021 (44 million nights in 2021 vs 177.6 million in 2022). 

eurostat tourism

Total monthly guest nights spent in the EU in the first halves of 2019-2022, Source: Eurostat

In terms of domestic travel, data show that in the first half of 2022 it was still 7% lower compared with the same period of 2019.

Similarly to the COVID-19 outbreak months, in the first 6 months of 2022, the domestic component continued to supplant international travel, although (in line with the normal seasonal pattern building up to the summer season) both indicators registered increasing numbers: from 56.7 million domestic tourism nights in January to 152.4 million in June; and 32.7 million nights spent by foreign tourists in January to 137.2 million in June. 

In total, 579.1 million nights were spent by domestic tourists during the first half of 2022, accounting for 57% of all nights spent during this period.  This share was 53% for the same period of 2019 while it increased to 64 % in 2020 and 79% in 2021, reflecting the shift to domestic tourism during the pandemic and the recovery of international tourism in 2022. 

eurostat tourism 2

Comparison of domestic and foreign market shares in the EU tourism sector, Source: Eurostat



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