EU tourism fell 61% during the pandemic – countries most affected are Malta, Spain, Greece and Portugal

European tourism has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, reveals European statistics provider EUROSTAT in the latest published report.

According to EUROSTAT, the figure of overnight stays by European tourists accommodated in establishments had fallen by 61% from April 2020 to March 2021, representing 1.1 billion tourists, whereas 12 months before the pandemic (April 2019 to March 2020), there were 2.8. billion tourists welcomed for overnight stays, reports SchengenVisaInfo.com.

The largest declines in this type of tourism were recorded in Malta, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Hungary, each of these countries recording a decline of more than -60 percent.

On the other hand, Denmark and the Netherlands reported the lowest deficit of EU member states, marking a decline of -36 percent.

Malta recorded a drop of -80% in overnight stays, being the destination hardest hit by the pandemic. Tourism fell 78% in Spain, placing the country’s tourism second on the list of countries affected by the pandemic. Tourism in Greece fell by -74 percent while Portugal saw a decline of -70 percent and Hungary hit a low of 61 percent.

On the other hand, EUROSTAT revealed that overnight stays by domestic customers have decreased by 57% while international customers have noted a decrease of almost -90% in all EU Member States.

Between April 2020 and March 2021, the number of nights spent by international visitors decreased in all European member states, with the largest deficit of -90% reported in Spain, followed by Romania with -89% and Hungary and Finland with -88 percent. Czechia also recorded a decline of -87 percent.

However, domestic tourism increased in Slovenia by 25 percent and in Malta by 20 percent, compared to the same period. However, this increase was not enough to offset the sharp drop in international tourism.

In August 2020, the Spanish government approved a fund of 14,445 million euros to help 111,080 businesses recover from damage caused by the pandemic, after Spanish tourism risked losing more than 40 billion dollars. euros because of the coronavirus.

However, the country was hoping tourism would start to pick up in April 2021, after El Pais reported a loss of 20 million international visits in 2020.

Italy, on the other hand, has reportedly lost as much as € 120.6 billion and experienced a 51% drop in gross domestic product over the past year. Thus, 337,000 people working in the tourism sector found themselves without a job. The country has recently started working in the “Scattered Uffizi” project, with the intention of spreading tourism throughout Tuscany rather than Florence, which has been overwhelmed by tourism.

Like Italy, the Netherlands is trying to fight against tourist trends by investing € 100,000 to promote respectful tourism in the country, known for its nightlife. The Dutch government intends to promote the highest swing in Europe, located in Amsterdam alongside other tourist attractions.

Greece, another hard-hit tourist destination, has received a € 800 million program from the European Commission to revive the tourism sector in the country after the pandemic.

The European Commission has allocated a € 202 million program for travel and tourism in Croatia to boost tourism.

The aid will be granted until 30 June 2021 at the latest and only to companies which were not considered to be in difficulty on 31 December 2019, with the exception of micro and small companies which are eligible even if already in difficulty at the December 31, 2019», Underlines the Commission in a press release, adding that Croatia will ensure the respect of the rules on State aid in the field of cumulation.

On the other hand, travel agencies in Poland have recently reported an explosion of interest in international tourism. According to an article published by the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita, bookings in Poland increased by 32% compared to the pre-pandemic period. Most of the booked destinations in Poland are the sea and the mountains, but the interest in visiting Albania has increased rapidly while the interest in traveling to Spain has declined.

However, contrary to Poland’s optimistic view, the CEO of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association said the country would likely need three to four years to make up for losses caused by the pandemic in tourism.

Previously the Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Valdes Dombrovkis, noted that the Portuguese tourism industry is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping that this sector will help the country’s economy.

Vacation rental company Airbnb recently released a report, according to which the post-pandemic tourism industry is set to change, as people retreat from famous and must-see destinations and choose quieter, more coastal ones, for example in France, reservations in Paris decreased while reservations for the Var increased.


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