Anna Luebke - May 17, 2020

Before the spread of COVID19 in Europe, many tourism destinations recorded strong performance in January and February. The only 2 destinations reporting till March experienced major declines in their tourism performance. 

According to the European Travel Commission, Croatia saw a 41% decline, China and the U.S.A both saw a decline of 58%, Sweden experienced a 65% decline, with Norway suffering the most declines at 87%.

Arrivals drastically reduced in all major tourism markets with Canada hit hardest at 51% drop. India recorded 48% fewer arrivals, U.S.A recorded 46%, and Iceland 27%.

According to available data, worldwide flights were down by 80% in early April as compared to the beginning of the year. In Europe, air passenger demand fell by 51.8% in March as compared to the previous year.

Hotels worldwide also suffered major declines in performance in March resulting in double-digit declines in the first quarter. Outside of Asia, Europe was worst hit as the occupancy rate dropped by 23.3% compared to 2019. 

Predictions are that Europe will experience a 39% reduction in tourist arrivals in 2020, which means 287 million fewer international tourists for the continent this year.

The figures are slightly better for domestic travel as a decline of 23% is expected in 2020.

Findings from a recent member survey by the European Travels Commission show that all destinations expect the decline arrivals, with 30% of respondents expecting a 30%-40% reduction in arrivals. 

In all of Europe, Italy is the most impacted destination with a percentage drop of 49%. France, however, suffers the most impact in terms of volume with a loss of 38 million inbound visits, with Spain close behind losing 34 million international arrivals. 

Spain, France, and Italy account for about 1/3 of the fall in international arrivals in Europe. 

As internal travel restrictions are being lifted in different countries, domestic travel is expected to recover first. 

The ETC predicts that the tourism sector will experience strong recovery in 2021, but it would take until 2023 before levels as high as recorded in 2019 will be reached due to an expected global recession.


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