Airline bookings to Europe soar

SINGAPORE, 30 May 2024: Summer travel to Europe is heading for a robust recovery as airline bookings surge, according to intelligence provider ForwardKeys.

In its latest market research released this week, ForwardKeys predicts a total return to pre-pandemic travel levels, but with notable shifts in traveller preferences.

ForwardKeys Director of Intelligence and Marketing Olivier Ponti commented: “Overall, the picture is positive for destinations worldwide looking to attract lucrative European tourism over the coming years. With the disruption to demand and bookings caused by the Covid-19 pandemic now firmly in the past, the 2024 summer season looks likely to set a new benchmark for European travel both within the region and beyond.” 

London Most Searched Destination Amidst Paris Olympics Buzz

An analysis of flight searches from January to April 2024 shows London (5% share of flight searches for travel to Europe) benefits from the greatest relative increase in the share of searches for travel in summer 2024 (+1.9 percentage points), driven by the collateral excitement of the Paris Olympics, with readily available transport links to the French capital. 

Paris shows similar popularity (+0.5 percentage points increase), although its share of searches is slightly lower as many visitors to the Games will have planned direct travel further in advance. Istanbul (+0.4 p.p.), Rome (+0.7 p.p.) and Milan (+0.7 p.p.) gain in relative popularity while destinations in Spain, Greece and Portugal (including Athens, Lisbon, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca) lose ground after enjoying great demand in the post-Covid years reflecting shifting preferences among European travellers.

However, some destinations are bucking this trend, including Tenerife (+0.41 p.p.) and Izmir (+0.25 p.p.), witnessing the largest surge in interest among mid-tier destinations. A growing interest in Northern European cities Reykjavik (+0.21pp) and Munich (+0.15pp) reflects the popularity of destinations with cooler summer temperatures among holidaymakers. In Eastern Europe, Tirana (+0.07pp), continues to grow in popularity, building on success in recent years, and is joined by Yerevan (+0.03pp) and Tbilisi (+0.09pp) – popular among both European and Russian tourists due to the combination of natural and cultural heritage available and affordable prices. 

Analysis of forward ticketing data for travel to European city destinations in July and August 2024 reveals a shift in consumer preferences towards nature (+19%) and urban (+14%) destinations over traditional sun and beach destinations (+8%). This is reflected at a subregional level as year-on-year growth in international arrivals to Central/Eastern Europe (+25%), Western Europe (+15%), and Northern Europe (+13%) outstrips that to destinations in Southern Europe (+11%).

European Outbound Travellers Focus on Asian Destinations

Outbound travel from Europe also displays clear trends, with year-on-year growth in intra-European (+14%) and long-haul travel to a diverse range of Asian markets (+16%). Forward ticket data for July and August indicates that European travellers are increasingly choosing to venture further afield to explore the landscapes and cultures of Beijing (+132%) in particular, as well as Osaka (+66%), Bangkok (+21%), Colombo (+21%), and Kuala Lumpur (+14%). These destinations benefit from various factors, including improved connectivity, visa waivers for Europeans entering China, and the favourable Euro to Yen exchange rate. Moderate growth in demand for US markets, such as Chicago (+14%) and Miami (+9%), is also notable.


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