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Short-stay bookings in EU on pace to exceed pre-pandemic levels

New data from the bloc’s statistics agency indicates tourists flocked to destinations such as the Alps and the Mediterranean coast in the first two quarters of 2022.

(CN) — With nearly 200 million guest nights booked on services like Airbnb, Expedia, Trip Advisor or Booking.com, platform tourism in the European Union outpaced pre-pandemic levels for the first time during the first six months of 2022, according to a Eurostat report released Tuesday.

The figure reflects a 138% increase in bookings over the same period in 2021, although it is just 3.2% above the first two quarters of 2019, roughly a year before Covid-19 hampered or prevented tourism worldwide.

Nine countries accounted for more than half of the bookings, with France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal comprising the top five. Regional data indicates Rhône-Alpes in France and Spain’s Canary Islands had the largest draw, with more than 4 million guest nights each in the first half of this year. A total of 15 regions had bookings of more than 1 million guest nights, including five each in France and Spain, two in Italy and one each in Austria, Poland and Portugal. Greece and Croatia were also popular destinations. 

Guest nights are defined as the number of nights spent during a stay multiplied by the number of guests in the party. For example, a family of four booking a three-night stay equals 12 guest nights. 

People cool off on Puerto de Sagunto beach, east Spain on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

“Due to the high seasonality in tourism data and the fact that different countries and regions have different seasons of high demand (e.g. winter tourism in the Alps versus summer tourism in the Mediterranean countries), the list of most popular regions in the first quarter of the year looks quite different than the list for the whole year,” the report explained, noting Tirol in Austria was nearly as popular as the French Alps. “A second cluster of popular regions were sunny regions along the Mediterranean (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Cataluña and Andalucia) and the Canary Islands.”

Tourism in the EU is more popular in the summer months, peaking in mid-August, according to the data from Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency. If bookings remain on a similar track for the remainder of 2022, the number of room nights may exceed the high of 512 million recorded in 2019

But compared to 2019, not all countries have thrived. Bookings in the Czech Republican remain more than 40% lower than the same period three years ago, while tourism has also been slower to return to countries like Iceland, Ireland, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Malta, Slovenia and Slovakia. 

“Platform tourism in the most popular destination countries recovered almost completely, with the potential exceptions of Italy and Austria, which are nevertheless within reach of their pre-pandemic levels,” the report concluded. 

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