European Destinations Are Hot for Global Travellers This Summer

Catch up on the latest 2023 European summer travel trends.

May 18, 2023

*This data was pulled April 5 to May 3, 2023.

As the summer months draw nearer, travellers all over the world are planning and booking mid-year trips. Travel insights highlight a continued rebound, and international countries such as China are reentering the European travel market after a lull in activity since the pandemic. Because of this new demand, European hotels, attractions, and destinations have an exciting season ahead. 

This year prompted an influx of new travel trends, undoubtedly impacting inbound and outbound European travel. Popular trends include the rise of the slow traveller, jet-lag free jaunts, set-jetting, electric road trips, and a focus on wellness breaks. With ChatGPT being hot on everyone’s mind, travellers all over the world are simplifying their itinerary creation, while travel marketers are using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve marketing performance and personalisation.

In this article we take a look at European summer travel trends, and observe the differences we are seeing compared to last summer.

Summer Holiday Bookings Began Earlier This Year Than Last

After analysing travel trends during Easter, travel within Europe remains high considering the ongoing travel strikes and disruption across the continent. Recent announcements highlight that hotels are returning to pre-pandemic occupancy levels. According to Sojern’s latest travel insights, it is likely that many European hotels will see an uptick in bookings this summer. 

Compared to 2022, this year’s flight bookings picked up early for the summer travel period. Globally, flight bookings to European destinations were up 15% as of April. This pattern is reflected across each origin displayed in the graph below, with the Middle East and Africa, and Oceania growing by 33% and 107% respectively. North America follows with an 18% increase in bookings, and Europe lags behind with an increase of just 3%. This paints a strong picture for the European travel market, especially with regards to international travel—something travel marketers should be capitalising on for summer 2023. 

European Inbound Summer Flight Bookings, % Change vs 2022

Travel Marketing Tip: With summer travel being booked earlier this year, travel marketers should focus on refining their permission-based personalisation strategies to share added value with their customers and drive higher spend. As travellers plan the finer details of their trips, their extended lead time gives travel marketers the opportunity to put personalisation into practice.

European Summer Travel Bookings See Positive Momentum, Primarily From Non-European Travellers

Travel to Europe is being booked earlier this year than in 2022. It's safe to say that the region is attracting positive travel momentum. That said, when comparing the percentage of flights booked from domestic, regional, and global origins, we get a clearer picture of where this demand comes from, not just when people are booking. 

The graph below shows both international and regional flight bookings to Europe for the summer period are growing. Most significantly, international travel demand has increased by 7% compared to 2022. 

Interestingly, domestic travellers booking trips within their own country have reduced by 9%. It is important to note that although the percentage of local flight bookings has decreased, the pool of bookings is larger this year. Therefore, domestic travel hasn’t weakened. Instead, regional and international travel have taken a bigger share when looking at inbound travel to the region as a whole. 

European Inbound Summer Flight Bookings, Origin Status vs. 2022

Spain Remains a Chart Topper for Most Booked European Destination 

Global flight bookings highlight that Spain has maintained its position as the most popular destination for summer holidays within Europe for another year. However, there is not a huge amount of change within the charts compared to last year. Spain, along with Italy, United Kingdom (UK), France, and Greece, remain the most popular destinations for travellers from across the world. This year, these five countries accounted for approximately 60% of travel demand across the European destinations displayed below, as of April.  

Although Spain is the most popular destination for summer holidays this year, London, UK, is the most booked city with close to 10% of the booking share—reflecting 2022 standings. Although individually, Spanish cities are not seeing booking levels as high as London, there are multiple cities appearing in the ‘top metros’ table, showing that travel demand across Spain is more evenly distributed. 

European Summer Travel - top destinations across 2023 global flight bookings

Travel Marketing Tip: Maximise your return on investment with direct bookings. To accelerate your direct bookings this summer, make sure your website is up-to-date and simple to navigate to encourage travellers to go ahead with their booking. 

As a travel marketer, travel insights are key to maximising results. For the latest travel trends, remember to check out our self-service Global Insights Dashboard.

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