Tourist hotspots most resilient following pandemic, research reveals

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Tourist hotspots most resilient following pandemic, research reveals

The latest edition of the ECM-ForwardKeys Quarterly Barometer, published jointly by ForwardKeys, a travel analytics company, and non-profit organisation, European Cities Marketing, has revealed that Europe’s most resilient destinations following the Covid-19 pandemic are leisure hotspots.

As of 27 October 2020, total inbound flight bookings for the EU and the UK, for the fourth quarter of 2020, were 85.6% behind where they were at the equivalent moment last year. Paris, which is normally Europe’s second most popular destination, has climbed to top spot, even though its bookings are 82.3% behind 2019 levels.

In a ranking of the EU’s most resilient major cities (ie: cities with at least 1.0% share of international arrivals), all are major leisure destinations. The first is Heraklion, the capital of Crete, with flight bookings only 25.4% behind their 2019 level. In second place is Faro, the gateway to Portugal’s Algarve region, which is 48.7% behind. Following this are Athens, 71.4% behind; Naples, 73.4% behind; and Larnaca, 74.2% behind. The cities in the second half of the list, in descending order, are Porto, 74.5% behind; Palma Mallorca, 74.6% behind; Stockholm, 75.8% behind; Malaga, 78.2% behind; and Lisbon, 78.8% behind.

Olivier Ponti, VP of insights at ForwardKeys, said: “When one digs into the data behind these headline numbers, we see that people are still making travel plans; and within those plans there are five clear trends. First, leisure and personal travel is holding up much better than business travel, which is virtually non-existent right now. Second, bookings are dominated by the Christmas holiday period. Third, people are booking at even shorter notice than usual, probably wary of travel restrictions being imposed without warning. Fourth, fares are consistently on the low side, with airlines doing everything in their power to tempt back travellers; and fifth, destinations which have remained open to EU travel, such as Stockholm, have suffered relatively less badly.”

Petra Stušek, ECM President, added: “Once again the ECM-ForwardKeys Air Travellers’ Traffic Barometer allows us, as destination marketing organisations (DMOs), to identify trends which, in this time of crisis, are clearly different from what we experienced last year. The data from the latest barometer show the power and resilience of cities, even though the meetings industry is still running behind; and the past months were very difficult for city tourism. This challenging time is frustrating for stakeholders within destinations and for DMOs. At ECM, we are developing various tools and content to support our members on their path to recovery.”

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