Crete and Portugal are Europe’s ‘most resilient’ destinations

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The latest edition of the ECM-ForwardKeys Quarterly Barometer, published jointly by ForwardKeys and the non-profit organisation European Cities Marketing (ECM), revealed that Paris, which is normally Europe’s second-most-popular destination, has climbed to the top spot, even though its bookings are 82.3-per-cent behind 2019 levels. As of 27 October, total inbound flight bookings for the European Union (EU) and the UK, for the fourth quarter of 2020, were 85.6-per-cent behind where they were at this time last year.

However, in a ranking of the EU’s most resilient major cities (cities with at least one per cent share of international arrivals), the news is not quite so awful; and a common theme is that all are major leisure destinations.

Top of the list is Heraklion, the capital of Crete, known for the ancient Palace of Knossos. There, flight bookings are only 25.4-per-cent behind their 2019 level. In second place is Faro, the gateway to Portugal’s Algarve region, which is known for its beaches and golf resorts, and lies 48.7 per cent behind.

People are still making travel plans despite pandemic

The next three positions are taken by Athens, 71.4-per-cent behind; Naples, 73.4-per-cent behind; and Larnaca, 74.2-per-cent behind. The cities in the second half of the list, in descending order, comprise Porto; Palma Mallorca; Stockholm; Malaga; and Lisbon, which is 78.8-per-cent behind year-on-year.

Olivier Ponti, Vice-President at Insights, ForwardKeys, commented: “When one digs into the data behind these headline numbers, we see that people are still making travel plans; and within those plans, there are five clear trends. First, leisure and personal travel is holding up much better than business travel, which is virtually non-existent right now.

“Second, bookings are dominated by the Christmas holiday period. Third, people are booking at even shorter notice than usual, probably wary of travel restrictions being imposed without warning. Fourth, fares are consistently on the low side, with airlines doing everything in their power to tempt back travellers; and fifth, destinations which have remained open to EU travel, such as Stockholm, have suffered relatively less badly.”

Travel confidence is remaining low this year; however, research by travel tech company Amadeus showed mobile applications could be the key to unlocking wanderlust and allowing global travel to start again. With this in mind, travel destinations could hopefully work towards a more promising year in travel in 2021.

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