Summer travellers to Europe are prioritizing safety, ETC says

Enthusiasm for travel is rising in key international markets, with 59 per cent of respondents interested in overseas trips for summer 2024 — a notable nine per cent increase compared to 2019.

Europe’s appeal is gradually picking up, albeit at a slower pace, due to security and affordability concerns. Nevertheless, Europe remains a top destination choice, with 41 per cent of surveyed individuals planning to visit this summer, down four per cent from 2019 levels.

This is according to the latest Long-Haul Travel Barometer (LHTB) 2/2024 published today by the European Travel Commission (ETC) and Eurail BV. Targeting 7000 travellers from seven major overseas markets – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, and the US – this study analyses travel sentiment to Europe for the summer months, from May to August 2024.

Findings from the key markets include:

  • China and Brazil demonstrate the strongest intention to visit Europe this summer, with 62 per cent and 52 per cent of travellers planning a trip. In both countries, this number is largely driven by more affluent individuals.
  • Travellers from the U.S. and Canada exhibit a more cautious approach to European travel, with interest growing slightly since last year to 40 per cent and 42 per cent respectively.
  • Australia and South Korea show moderate enthusiasm, as interest sits at 37 per cent and 35 per cent respectively.
  • Japan shows more limited interest at 19 per cent, as travel recovery from this market continues to be slow.
  • Across all markets, younger travellers (ages 18-24 and 34-49) and those with higher incomes show the strongest preference for European trips.

“The positive trends we are recording in travel behaviour are a win-win for travellers and destinations. We are seeing an increased interest in longer stays, allowing tourists to develop a deeper connection with the local culture and support the businesses that make each destination unique,” said ETC President Miguel Sanz. “In addition, the openness to off-season travel presents a golden opportunity to spread tourism more evenly throughout the year. This can help reduce peak periods’ social and environmental strain and better support destinations’ visitor economy.”

Affordability takes a back seat in travel priorities

Safety has emerged as the top criterion for long-haul travellers when choosing a destination in Europe this summer. Nearly half (45 per cent) of respondents prioritize European destinations perceived as secure, marking a nine per cent increase compared to summer 2022 and six per cent since summer 2023.

Quality tourism infrastructure places second (38 per cent), followed by a seven per cent resurgence in the appeal of iconic landmarks, from 29 per cent in summer 2023 to 36 per cent in summer 2024.

Included in the survey for the first time, ‘stable weather conditions’ is the top factor for 31 per cent of respondents. Convenience also plays a notable role, with 20 per cent of travellers opting for destinations which can be reached by a direct flight and 20 per cent preferring a destination with good train connections to other places of interest.

While affordability remains a consideration for 23 per cent of respondents, it has decreased from 32 per cent last year. This shift indicates that travellers are increasingly focusing on quality and safety, valuing a smooth travel experience over strict budget limitations.

Multi-country trips in demand

Sixty-seven per cent of long-haul travellers to Europe are opting for multi-country itineraries. For international travel within Europe, full-service airlines remain the preferred choice for 51% of respondents. Train passes emerge as the second most popular option (30 per cent) due to their flexibility and cost-effectiveness in navigating multiple destinations. Low-cost airlines (29%) and single/return train tickets (24 per cent) are also popular among budget-conscious travellers.

Conversely, 21 per cent of respondents reported planning an in-depth visit of a single European country. For these domestic trips, single/return train tickets are the most popular choice (32 per cent), offering a convenient and efficient way to travel between cities over short to medium distances. Travellers seeking more freedom and flexibility are instead opting for car rentals (29 per cent).

Overall, travellers demonstrate a shift in priorities, with a growing desire for more immersive travel experiences. Despite the increasing popularity of mid-range daily budgets (€100-€200) since 2019 (+eight per cent), there is also a greater interest in extended holidays. While one-to-two-week trips remain the most popular choice (57 per cent), getaways exceeding two weeks have risen from 13 per cent in 2019 to 21 per cent in 2024.

Responsible behaviours & familiarity

For the first time, the survey also delved deeper into traveller flexibility to explore certain travel behaviours associated with increased social and environmental sustainability. Notably, 53 per cent of respondents reported being open to travelling to Europe during off-peak periods, attracted by potential cost savings and the opportunity to experience iconic attractions more intimately.

However, when it comes to choosing specific destinations and experiences, travellers often prioritize familiarity. Sixty-one per cent of respondents gravitate towards destinations with well-developed infrastructure and renowned attractions. While the allure of popular spots remains strong, 39 per cent show interest in exploring lesser-known locations across Europe.

A similar preference for either new experiences or familiarity can be seen in how travellers interact with tourism businesses. Half of the respondents want to support local suppliers, while the remaining half prefer familiar accommodations, dining and shopping brands.

The summary report can be downloaded from ETC’s corporate website under the following link: