Whether it was under the Eiffel Tower, on top of the Rialto Bridge or in the middle of La Rambla, in 2019 travellers thronged past each, with the home cities for all of these icons drawing in tens of millions of annual visitors.
NB: This is an article from OTA Insight
The conversation in 2019 and early 2020 was firmly affixed on a question of too much demand across many of Europe’s tourism capitals. For Barcelona, Paris or Venice, which will be the cities we will be looking at in this snapshot, crowd management and infrastructural questions abounded. The situation led some to suggest radical proposals to limit inbound tourism.
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The arrival of the pandemic halted this conversation, shifting it instead to getting the travel and tourism industries in these key destinations back on their feet, especially since they are central to the economies of these cities.
The shift was dramatic. Barcelona’s hotels association president, Jordi Clos, said in February 2022 that the city’s hotels had lost up to €2.5 billion since the pandemic broke. According to Spain’s statistical authority, occupancy for the Cataluña region, the capital of which is Barcelona, has only moved above 50% once – in August 2021 – in the year between March 2021 and March 2022.
Occupancy rate per bed-places in Cataluña region, Spain
Annual nights spent in Venice 2017 to 2021 (millions)
Similarly, Paris saw occupancy rates crumble, with revenues more than halved in the first half of 2021.
Venice’s accommodation industry lost 21 million nights from 2019 to 2020 as per the Veneto region’s statistical authority.
The long road back
So where are we today after these exceptional figures?
The answer is a much better place, with demand returning strongly after the toughest years the European hotel industry has experienced in living memory.
Across all three cities, our data shows that interest in travel is soaring and helping these traditional tourism powerhouses to come back strongly in the run up to the peak period of 2022.
Flight Search Evolution Index
GDS Hotel Search Evolution Index
Looking at our proprietary indexes of searches there has been surging search volumes across 2022, which underline the return of consumer confidence and interest in travel.
This can be seen in the Flight Search Evolution Index and GDS Hotel Search Evolution Index charts above. Both use January 2021 as a base point for measurement, giving the search volumes a score of 1 for relative measurement at this initial point.
For flights, the volume of searches for Venice and Barcelona has soared by more than 1500% from the beginning of January 2021 to the time of writing in May 2022. In the latter’s case, the index has risen from one to 17.5 across the time period. Searches to Paris rose more modestly, but have still climbed 12-fold.
The GDS Hotel Search Evolution Index shows a similar overall pattern, with searches for Paris and Barcelona rising 8 and 9-fold, respectively.
Both these indexes are strong indicators of travellers’ interest in these destinations and their intent to make trips overall as well. They show that the dark days of 2020 and 2021 are now behind the Western European travel industry, barring another major exterior event.