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16 May, 2011

Survey Shows Europeans Back on the Road But Staying Close To Home

BUDAPEST, (Europa Press Release) — The findings of a new Eurobarometer survey on the attitudes of Europeans towards tourism confirm other indicators that tourism has recovered from economic crisis. Travel preference for 2011 still inclines towards traditional tourist destinations (58%), while 28% would like to discover emerging destinations.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani presented the Eurobarometer on May 13 at the European Tourism Stakeholders Conference organised by the Hungarian Presidency and the European Commission in Budapest. Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship said: “The fact that 58% of EU residents are opting to enjoy their holidays in Europe highlights that, generally, the tourism industry is on its way to recovery and becoming a growth industry once again.” Among the most relevant findings of the new Eurobarometer survey are:

The most popular choices: Italy was the most frequently mentioned planned holiday destination for 2011 (11.5%). Spain came second with 8.6% followed by France (8.2%). 23% of EU residents have not decided yet where to spend their holidays.

Continuing trend towards discovering Europe and the home country: In 2011 58% of Europeans plan to spend their holidays in their own country or in another EU country..

Increasing appetite for travelling: Almost three-quarters of (73% vs 69% last year) EU citizens travelled for leisure or business in 2010. The top five travellers are the residents of Finland (89%), Denmark (87%), the Netherlands, Sweden (both 87%), Luxembourg (85%) and Norway (84%).

“Local attractiveness” matters: 32% named it as the major consideration when choosing holiday destinations, followed by “cultural heritage” (27%) and “entertainment possibilities” (14 %).

Seeking “rest and recreation” was the main motivation for over a third of the leisure travellers (36%), followed by “sun and beach” (18%) and “visiting friends and relatives” (17%).

Arranging their holidays individually: over half of EU citizens organised their main holidays themselves in 2010 (57%); this is even more popular in the candidate countries Turkey (80%), Iceland (79%) and Croatia (78%)!

Over 30,000 randomly selected citizens aged 15 and over, were interviewed in February 2011 in the 27 EU Member States as well as in Norway, Iceland, Croatia, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It is the third consecutive year that the Commission has done such an extensive survey, which offers a wealth of comparable information to all tourism stakeholders, presented analytically in country specific and demographic categories.

The European Commission has conducted this kind of survey once a year since 2008 in order to monitor the short and medium term travel and tourism trends of European citizens. This allows both the Commission and its stakeholders to react to changes in tourism demand, thus being an important instrument for tourism policy making as well as for tourism industry planning, in particular on types of tourism and on prevailing destinations.


Travel trends in 2010

• Almost three-quarters (73%) of EU citizens said they had travelled, either for business or private purposes, at least once in 2010; 32% had made at least one holiday trip and at least one “short private” trip, 24% had made at least one holiday trip but no “short private” trips and 12% had made at least one “short private” trip but no holiday trips. Slightly less than 3 in 10 (29%) EU citizens had not travelled for leisure purposes in 2010.

• Respondents in Turkey and Hungary were the most likely to say that they had not travelled for private purposes (68% and 60%, respectively). In another four countries, at least 4 in 10 respondents had not made short private trips or holiday trips: Slovakia (40%), Estonia (41%), Portugal (43%) and Romania (46%).

• Comparing travel for leisure purposes in 2008, 2009 and 2010, it could be seen that, in the current wave, respondents were somewhat less likely to say that they had not travelled for leisure purposes (29% in 2010 vs. 32%-33% in 2008/2009). Furthermore, last year’s survey results had shown a decrease in the proportion of EU citizens who had made at least one “short private” trip and at least one holiday trip (from 39% in 2008 to 27% in 2009; -12 points); respondents in the current wave, however, were – once again – more likely to have made at least one holiday trip and at least one “short private” trip (from 27% in 2009 to 32% in 2010; +5 points).

• About a quarter (24%) of respondents who had travelled for leisure purposes had made just one holiday or “short private” trip. About a fifth (21%) had been on two holidays or “short private” trips, 16% had been on three leisure trips and 17% had made between four and five such trips. Finally, one in five respondents, who had travelled for leisure purposes in 2010, had made more than five leisure trips in that year.

Financial aspects

• Across almost all countries included in this survey, the largest proportion of respondents – who had not taken a holiday in 2010 – said this was because of financial reasons; such reasons were cited by more than 6 in 10 respondents in Hungary (68%), Bulgaria (65%) and Romania (62%).

• When asked which holiday leisure activities EU citizens would give up first if savings were needed while they were actually on holiday, the largest proportions of interviewees selected “beauty or wellness treatments” (27%; + 3 percentage points compared to 2009) and shopping (21%; unchanged compared to 2009).

Holiday focus and attractions

• The largest proportion of holidaymakers across the EU (36%) said that the major motivation for their main holiday in 2010 had been “rest and recreation”. Just under one in five (18%) had wanted a sun/beach holiday and 17% said the main objective had been to visit friends or relatives.

• In almost all countries surveyed, respondents who preferred to spend their holidays in “traditional” tourist destinations outnumbered those who favoured visiting “alternative or emerging” destinations. Countries with a high proportion of respondents who preferred “emerging” tourist destinations were Iceland (43%), Norway and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (both 44%).

• More than a third (36%) of EU citizens answered that a non-traditional destination would allow them to explore local cultures and lifestyles. As in the previous waves of this survey, financial considerations also played a role: 21% mentioned “better value for money” and 17% selected “cheaper costs/lower prices”.

• When deciding on a holiday destination, the largest proportions (32%) of EU citizens named the location’s environment (e.g. its overall attractiveness) as the key consideration. Cultural heritage (27%) and options for entertainment (14%) were the second and third most widespread responses in regard to factors that influenced a choice of destination.

Arranging a holiday

• A share of 44% of holidaymakers across the EU had travelled to their main holiday destination by car or motorbike; this is the lowest proportion measured since the first wave of this survey (47%- 48% in 2008/2009). At the same time, taking a flight to go on holiday had never been as popular as in 2010 (39%; +4 points compared to 2009).

• In most countries surveyed (25 out of 32), more than half of holidaymakers had organised their holiday individually. The proportions of respondents who had made at least one holiday trip in 2010 and had booked their main holiday themselves were highest in Turkey (80%), Iceland (79%), Croatia (78%), Romania (77%), Hungary (76%), Latvia (74%), Greece (74%), Lithuania (73%) and Poland (72%).

• About one in seven (14%) had booked travel tickets or accommodation through a travel agency and 10% had booked a package tour or all-inclusive holiday through a travel agency. A somewhat higher proportion (13%) had opted for a package tour or all-inclusive holiday booked via the Internet.

• Fifty-eight percent of EU citizens said that the views of friends and colleagues were the (first or second) most important sources of information when making decisions about travel and holiday plans. The Internet was considered to be the main source of information by 45% of respondents, and a lower proportion (29%) mentioned personal experience.

• Respondents who had been on a “cultural” holiday were less inclined than their counterparts to rely on personal experience (25% compared to, for example, 30% of holidaymakers who had wanted sun/beach) and more likely to rely on guidebooks and magazines (19% compared to, for example, 11% of holidaymakers who had wanted a sun/beach holiday).

• As in previous waves, the largest difference in terms of information sources when comparing respondents with a preference for “off the beaten track” holidays and those who preferred more “traditional” holiday destinations was seen when looking at the importance of the Internet: 54% of the former respondents said that the Internet was an important source of information when planning a holiday compared to 42% of the latter.

Vacation plans for 2011

• When asked about their holiday destination in 2011, almost 4 in 10 (38%) EU citizens answered that they were planning a holiday in their home country. One in five interviewees said they were planning to take a holiday within the EU and a somewhat lower proportion (16%) indicated that a non-EU country would be their main holiday destination in 2011.

• Almost a quarter (23%) of respondents did not know yet where they would spend their main holiday in 2011 or preferred not to answer this question; roughly 1 in 20 (4%) interviewees spontaneously said they would not go on holiday in 2011.

• In 15 countries, a majority of these respondents were planning to spend their holiday in their own country; the highest shares were found in Turkey (88%), Croatia (86%), Greece (85%) and Bulgaria (82%). In nine countries, the largest proportion of respondents, who were planning a holiday in 2011, had chosen a destination elsewhere in the EU; respondents in Luxembourg were the most likely to have made such a choice (62%). Finally, in two countries, about half of respondents were planning a holiday outside the EU: Slovenia (51%) and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (50%).