Leisure destinations more resilient

LONDON, 25 November 2020: Europe’s most resilient destinations in the face of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic turn out to be traditional leisure hotspots rather than business travel destinations.

It is just of the key takeaways identified in the latest edition of the ECM-ForwardKeys Quarterly Barometer published jointly by ForwardKeys, and European Cities Marketing.

The study showed inbound flight bookings for the EU and the UK, for the fourth quarter of 2020, down 85.6% when compared with the same quarter last year.

Paris usually Europe’s second most popular destination climbed to the top spot, even though its bookings were 82.3% behind 2019 levels.

In a ranking of the EU’s most resilient major cities, the news is not quite so awful. The winners are all major leisure destinations.

Top of the list is Heraklion, the capital of Crete, known for the ancient Palace of Knossos. There, flight bookings are only 25.4% behind their 2019 level. In second place is Faro, the gateway to Portugal’s Algarve region, which is known for its beaches and golf resorts, 48.7% behind. The next three positions are taken by Athens, 71.4% behind; Naples, 73.4% behind; and Larnaca, 74.2% behind. The cities in the second half of the list,  comprise Porto, 74.5% behind; Palma Mallorca, 74.6% behind; Stockholm, 75.8% behind; Malaga, 78.2% behind; and Lisbon, 78.8% behind.

ForwardKeys vice president Insights, Olivier Ponti said: “When one digs into the data behind these headline numbers, we see that people are still making travel plans; and within those plans, there are five clear trends.

Key takeaways

Leisure and personal travel are holding up much better than business travel, which is virtually non-existent right now.

Bookings are dominated by the Christmas holiday period.
Bookings are made at even shorter notice than usual, probably wary of travel restrictions being imposed without warning.

Fares are consistently on the low side, with airlines doing everything in their power to tempt back travellers.

Destinations which have remained open to EU travel, such as Stockholm, have suffered relatively less badly.”

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