March 2, 2023

European tourism shines bright in 2022

International tourist arrivals in Europe reached 80% of 2019 volumes last year, making it the leading destination in the world, with over 585 million visitors, according to UNWTO

With 80% of total pre-pandemic arrivals in 2022, Europe has been one of the most dynamic regions for the tourism sector according the the organisation.

585 million Travellers to Europe in 2022

-7% Europe has almost fully recovered 2019 levels, with a gap of just 7%

17% Albania exceeded 2019 levels by 17%

The recovery in Europe has been remarkable despite ongoing socio-economic challenges. The European continent welcomed 585 million international travellers in 2022 according to estimated data from UNWTO. This is compared to 305 million in 2021. Within the continent, Western Europe had the best track record, with international arrivals dropping by only 13% compared to 2019, representing a total of 178.1 million international tourists. In December, the difference with 2019 was even narrower, just -7%.

South/Mediterranean Europe was down by 18% (but narrowed to -7% in December 2022). It remains Europe’s largest tourism destination with 248 million international travellers, a market share of 27%. Northern Europe recorded 18% less tourists than in 2019. The region was however closing the gap in December with figures down by only 15% compared to December 2019.

For Central/Eastern Europe recovery shows a gap of 29% compared to 2019 numbers.

When looking at individual countries, Albania and Andorra were the best performers, exceeding 2019 tourism figures by respectively 17% and 14%. Other countries which recorded good performances were Liechtenstein (up 0.2%), Iceland (-0.3%), San Marino (-1.3%), Denmark (-2.1%), Luxemburg (-4%) and Serbia (-6%).

UNWTO indicated that France and Spain reached 85% of 2019 numbers, Italy 75%, Germany and the UK 70%. The UNWTO expects that Europe should continue to drive world’s tourism results in 2023, with arrivals reaching or exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

Optimistic predictions of the European Travel Commission in 2023

The outlook for travel to Europe is promising according to the latest forecasts released by the ETC, European Travel Commission. After the strong performance of Europe’s tourism industry in 2022, the rebound is expected to continue well into 2023, though at a slower pace. The slowdown is due to global pressures such as high inflation, the war in Ukraine and consequent energy crisis and the looming economic recession. Looking forward, international travel to Europe is forecast to reach pre-pandemic levels in 2025, while domestic travel will fully recover in 2024. ETC gives a growth of 4% in total arrivals next year and 17.3% in 2024.

Photo: Within Europe, Western Europe represented 19.5% of all arrivals in 2022 – Basel in Switzerland

European tourism shines bright in 2022
South Europe has been popular among travellers in 2022, such as Rome (Photo: LC/Cleverdis)