Tourist hotspots shine in the middle of Europe’s travel gloom

 Thursday, November 19, 2020 


The recent edition of the ECM-ForwardKeys Quarterly Barometer, published together by ForwardKeys, the travel analytics company, and the non-profit organization, European Cities Marketing, unveils the most resilient destinations of Europe in the face of the pandemic are leisure hotspots.

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

In a ranking of the most resilient cities in EU – cities with at least 1.0% share of international arrivals; the news is not so dreadful; interestingly, all are major leisure destinations. Top of the list is Heraklion, the capital of Crete, famous for the Palace of Knossos. Here, flight bookings are only 25.4% behind their last year’s level. Faro is in the second place, the gateway to Portugal’s Algarve region, which is popular for its beaches and golf resorts, 48.7% behind. The next three positions are taken by Athens, 71.4% behind; Naples, 73.4% behind; and Larnaca, 74.2% behind. The cities occupying in the second half of the list, in descending order, comprise Porto, 74.5% behind; Palma Mallorca, 74.6% behind; Stockholm, 75.8% behind; Malaga, 78.2% behind; and Lisbon, 78.8% behind.

To quote Olivier Ponti, VP, Insights, ForwardKeys, “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.”

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