The European Travel Commission, which represents Europe’s national tourism organisations, conducted a survey in March 2023 to find out more about where people plan to go on holiday this year, their budgets and travel concerns. The survey was carried out in Germany, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Poland and Austria.
“We are thrilled to see that despite financial concerns and higher travel costs, Europeans remain eager to travel. It is also encouraging to witness that more travellers choose off-peak summer travel to avoid overcrowding and peak prices,” said ETC president Luís Araújo, commenting on the research. “This positive trend supports sustainable destination management by spreading tourism flows more evenly.”
Here are some key takeaways from the survey.
More spring and early summer getaways
The survey found that 29.8% of European travellers said they intend to take an overnight trip between April and May, representing a 6% increase compared to 2022, said the report. 40.2% of respondents plan to travel in June or July, a figure similar to that of a year ago.
72% of Europeans intend to travel between April and September of this year. Leisure remains the main reason for travel, but it is business travel that has seen an increase compared to the year before, accounting for 8% of all intended trips, said the report.
Where do people want to travel?
France maintains its position as the top preferred country for Europeans to travel to, with 8.2% of survey respondents saying they are planning to travel to France on their next trip. Spain is in second place, with 7.6%, followed by Italy (7.4%). The report noted that Netherlands has fallen out of the top 10, while Belgium has joined the ranking, taking the ninth slot.
Despite a small decrease from last year, Europeans are still looking for sunshine and a beach when they travel, with 18.6% of survey respondents naming it as their preferred type of leisure trip. A city break and trips focused on culture and heritage or on nature and the outdoors are next on the list.
Weather, bargains and tranquility top priorities
In line with the desire for sun and beaches, the top criteria for respondents when choosing their next travel destination is pleasant weather conditions (17.8%). Uncrowdedness, however, is becoming more important, noted the survey: it’s the third most important criteria, with 11.0% naming it as a priority.
Major concerns centre around financial matters
European travellers are most anxious about the financial burden of their trips (23.7%), followed by the economic situation and their personal finances (17.4%). Extreme weather events, however, are becoming more worrisome, found the report, with 7.3% of survey respondents naming it as one of their biggest concerns.
The survey found that people in Spain (28% of respondents), the UK (25%), Germany (25%) and Italy (25%) were the most concerned with rising travel costs. Spain (20% of survey respondents), Poland (19%), Germany (19%) and the UK (19%) were the top four markets concerned with personal finances.
Due to inflation and the increasing costs of travel, Europeans are most likely to do less shopping or make fewer purchases (17%), opt for less expensive accommodation (16%) or choose less expensive restaurants (15%) when on holiday.
Find the full survey results here.