Southern Europe Leads The Way In Tourism Recovery

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As the Northern Hemisphere’s summer holiday season is in full swing, millions of tourists are heading towards Southern Europe to spend their summer vacation on the pristine beaches the region has to offer.

And, as Statista’s Felix Richter shows in the chart below, with Covid-19 no longer a concern for most travelers, countries like Spain, Italy and France are expecting a very busy, if not a record-breaking summer, as memories of empty beaches and travel restrictions are quickly fading.

You will find more infographics at Statista

In fact, Portugal, Italy, Spain and France – the latter still the number 1 destination for international tourists worldwide – already surpassed pre-pandemic visitor numbers in 2023, thereby leading the way in the tourism sector’s impressive recovery from this unprecedented crisis.

In 2023, an estimated 1.3 billion people traveled internationally, which is still a little more than 10 percent short of 2019 travel volume but up more than 200 percent from 2020, the worst year in history for international tourism.

According to the OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2024 report, the recovery of international tourism has been slightly uneven, with some regions opening up quicker than others and conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East limiting travel to affected and neighboring countries.

Against this backdrop, European destinations have been profiting from strong intra-European travel demand as well as from a large influx of American travelers empowered by the strong dollar.

The opposite is true for inbound travel to the United States, which is still down 16 percent from pre-pandemic levels, as the strong dollar makes traveling to the U.S. a lot more expensive for European or other international tourists.


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