Saturday, June 22, 2024

Seasonality in tourism demand – Statistics Explained

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One in four trips of EU residents made in July or August

In 2022, tourism demand of EU residents was concentrated in the third quarter, mainly in August followed by July, when respectively 12.9 % and 12.3 % of the entire year’s trips were made (see Figure 1). The number of trips in the peak month (August) was 2.8 times higher than the number of trips in the lowest month (January). Over 270 million tourism trips started in July or in August, meaning that on an average day in these months, 4.4 million Europeans were packing to leave on a trip.

Considering that the main (longest) trip in the year is often taken in summer, the seasonal pattern was even more pronounced when looking at the number of nights spent. EU residents spent more than one in three nights away in these two months, July (17.3 %) and August (17.1 %). The number of nights spent in the peak month (July) was 4.6 times higher than the number of nights spent in the lowest month (January).

Long trips: the seasonal pattern more pronounced than for short trips

In August 2022, EU residents made 85 million long trips of at least four overnight stays. This represents 18 % of all long trips made through the entire year. Looking at the summer season from June to September, more than 50 % of all long trips in 2022 were made during these four months (see Figure 2).

The distribution of short trips over the 12 months was more evenly spread. June was the most popular month for trips between one and three overnight stays, followed by December.

Line chart showing trips of EU residents by month of departure and duration in millions. Three lines represent short trips, long trips and all trips over the months January to December 2022.

Figure 2: Trips of EU residents by month of departure and duration, 2022 (Millions)
Source: Eurostat (tour_dem_ttmd)

Summer and Christmas peaks more significant for domestic trips

In 2022, EU residents made 812 million trips inside their own country (domestic trips) and 264 million trips abroad. The spread over the 12 months of the year is relatively comparable for domestic and foreign trips (see Figure 3) although the summer and Christmas peaks are more pronounced for the domestic ones.

The number of domestic and foreign trips made during the peak month (August) were respectively 2.5 and 4.5 times higher than those made in the lowest month (January).

Line chart showing trips of EU residents by month of departure and destination in millions. Two lines represent domestic trips and foreign trips over the months January to December 2022.

Figure 3: Trips of EU residents by month of departure and destination, 2022 (Millions)
Source: Eurostat (tour_dem_ttmd)

Business trips partly compensate for the lowest periods of personal trips

On average over the year, business trips represented 9 % of all trips made by EU residents. As shown in Figure 4, this share ranged from 16 % in November to 4 % in July and August.

Business trips showed a substantially different distribution over the year compared to personal trips, with peaks in June and September (see Figure 5), the months just before and after the main holiday season. The monthly variation ranged from 4.5 million business trips in January to 12.3 million business trips in September.

Stacked vertical bar chart showing percentage share of professional trips of EU residents by month of departure. Totalling 100 percent, each monthly column has two stacks representing professional trips and personal trips for the year 2022.

Figure 4: Share of professional trips of EU residents by month of departure, 2022 (%)
Source: Eurostat (tour_dem_ttmd)
Line chart showing distribution over the year of EU residents' trips by purpose of the trip as percentage share on the 12 months. Two lines compare professional trips with personal trips over the months January to December 2022.

Figure 5: Distribution over the year of EU residents’ trips by purpose of the trip, 2022 (% share on the 12 months)
Source: Eurostat (tour_dem_ttmd)

Europeans spend more than one third of their tourism nights in July or August

Looking at national data, July or August were the most popular months for going on holidays for residents of all but five EU Member States: Germany, Croatia, Latvia, Malta and Romania, where the peak month was June, September or December (see Table 1 and Figure 6). At EU level, one in eight trips were concentrated in just one month (August). This peak was even more pronounced in 10 EU Member States, with Greece in the top, where the residents preferred August for 32 % of their trips, followed by Bulgaria (22 %) and Italy (21 %).

Table showing distribution over the year of EU residents' trips of at least one overnight stay as percentage share on each of the 12 months in the EU and individual EU Member States for the year 2022.

Table 1: Distribution over the year of EU residents’ trips of at least one overnight stay, 2022 (% share on the 12 months)
Source: Eurostat (tour_dem_ttmd)
Vertical bar chart showing peak month for EU residents' trips as percentage share on the 12 months in the EU and individual EU Member States for the year 2022. Each country column represents the percentage of the peak month, anyone of June, July, August, September or December 2022.

Figure 6: Peak month for EU residents’ trips, 2022 (% share on the 12 months)
Source: Eurostat (tour_dem_ttmd)

Seasonality can also be evaluated by looking at the ratio of the number of trips made during the peak month by those made during the lowest month (see Figure 7). In 2022, when Covid-19 restrictions were fully lifted, Greece came on top with the number of trips in August 16 times higher than in January (the lowest month). The lowest seasonality was found in France and Malta, where this ratio was only 2.4.

Vertical bar chart showing ratio of the peak month by the lowest month spent by EU residents in the EU and individual EU Member States. Each country has two columns comparing trips with nights for the year 2022.

When taking into account the duration (nights spent) rather than the number of trips, seasonality was more pronounced: the peak month for tourism nights of residents of all but two EU countries was either July or August. The only exceptions were Germany and Malta, where the peak months were June and September respectively (see Table 2 and Figure 8).

Vertical bar chart showing peak month for tourism nights spent by EU residents as percentage share on the 12 months in the EU and individual EU Member States. Each country column represents the percentage of the peak month, June, July, August or September 2022.

Figure 8: Peak month for tourism nights spent by EU residents, 2022 (% share on the 12 months)
Source: Eurostat (tour_dem_tnmd)
Table showing distribution over the year of EU residents' tourism nights as percentage share on the 12 months in the EU and individual EU Member States for the year 2022.

Table 2: Distribution over the year of EU residents’ tourism nights, 2022 (% share on the 12 months)
Source: Eurostat (tour_dem_tnmd)

During the two summer months of July and August, EU residents spent more than one third of all tourism nights spent in 2022. For the Greek tourists this share was 59 %, followed by Italians (54 %) and Bulgarians (43 %).

By dividing the number of nights spent by the number of trips that were made each month, the average length of stay of the trips is calculated. In 2022, EU residents made the longest trips (7.1 nights on average) in July, followed by August with 6.7 nights on average (see Table 3).

Table showing average length of stay as number of nights for EU residents' trips by month of departure in the EU and individual EU Member States for the year 2022.

More than one in four EU residents’ tourism nights in the months in between the bottom and peak season are spent by older people aged 65 years and over

Looking at the age of the tourist, 23 % of all tourism nights in 2022 were spent by Europeans aged 65 years and over. Compared with the seasonal pattern of nights spent by the other age groups, these nights were more evenly spread throughout the year. The July and August peak was a bit less pronounced, representing 29 % of the entire year’s tourism nights, while for the other age groups this share was on average 36 % (see Figure 9). People aged 65 years and over were more likely to travel during the shoulder season (March to June and September to November, i.e. the months in between the bottom and peak season).

Line chart showing tourism nights spent by EU residents by month of departure and age group in millions. Six lines represent age group ranges over the months January to December 2022.

At least 25 % of all the nights spent in March, May, June, September, October and November were spent by older tourists aged 65 years and over, with May and September reaching 29 % (see Figure 10).

Stacked vertical bar chart showing percentage share of tourism nights spent by EU residents by month of departure and age group. Totalling 100 percent, each monthly column has six stacks representing age group ranges for the year 2022.

Participation of children

On average in 2022, for 22 % of the trips made by Europeans aged 15 or more, the travel group included children aged less than 15 years (see Figure 11).

Line chart showing trips of EU residents by month of departure and participation of children in 2022, in millions. Two lines compare trips with children with trips without children over the months January to December 2022.

Figure 11: Trips of EU residents by month of departure and participation of children, 2022 (Millions) – Source: Eurostat (tour_dem_ttmd)

Such trips had a significant impact on the overall seasonality of tourism. Figure 12 shows their high concentration, in terms of nights spent, in July and August, the main school summer holiday months: nearly half (45 %) of these nights were spent during these two months while for trips where no children were participating, this share was 31 %.

Line chart showing distribution over the year of EU residents' tourism nights by month of departure and participation of children in 2022, as percentage share on the 12 months. Two lines compare trips with children with trips without children over the months January to December 2022.

Figure 12: Distribution over the year of EU residents’ tourism nights by month of departure and participation of children, 2022 (% share on the 12 months) – Source: Eurostat (tour_dem_tnmd)

Nearly one in three tourism nights spent by Europeans in July and August (32 % and 30  %, respectively), were spent by tourists whose travel group included children aged less than 15 years (see Figure 13).

Stacked vertical bar chart showing percentage share of tourism nights spent by EU residents by month of departure and participation of children. Totalling 100 percent, each monthly column has two stacks representing participation or non-participation of children for the year 2022.

Figure 13: Share of tourism nights spent by EU residents by month of departure and participation of children, 2022 (%) – Source: Eurostat (tour_dem_tnmd)

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

Collection of annual data on trips of EU residents

The collection consists of harmonised data collected by the Member States in the frame of the Regulation (EU) No 692/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning European statistics on tourism.

The scope of observation for data on tourism trips are all tourism trips with at least one overnight stay, made by the resident population aged 15 and over. It includes trips made for private or professional purpose, outside the usual environment.

Context

The EU is a major tourist destination, with four Member States among the world’s top ten destinations for holidaymakers, according to UNWTO[1] data. Tourism is an important activity in the EU which has the potential to contribute towards employment and economic growth, as well as to development in rural, peripheral or less-developed areas. These characteristics drive the demand for reliable and harmonised statistics within this field, as well as within the wider context of regional policy and sustainable development policy areas.

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