Tourism statistics - nights spent at tourist accommodation establishments
Data extracted in October 2020.
Planned article update: December 2020.
The number of nights spent in EU tourist accommodation in the first semester of 2020 dropped dramatically compared with the first semester of 2019, from 1.2 billion in 2019 to less than 0.5 billion in 2020 (-60 %).
After dropping by 95% in April 2020, nights spent in EU tourist accommodation rose in July 2020 to reach half of last year's levels .
This article focuses on the short-term evolutions in the nights spent in tourist accommodation in the European Union (EU). The data from the most recent reference semester available (January to June 2020) are compared with the same period of the previous year. This update, in order to evaluate the Covid-19 impact on the tourism sector, includes two more chapters. One chapter looking at monthly data from January to July and a second one presenting the results of an ad hoc data collection on monthly nights spent broken down by origin of the guest.
First semester of 2020: dramatic drop in number of nights spent in EU tourist accommodation
Comparing the first semester of 2020 with the first semester of 2019, the number of nights spent in EU tourist accommodation dropped dramatically, from 1.2 billion in 2019 to less than 0.5 billion in 2020 (-60 %).
All Member States recorded significant drops, while in Greece and Croatia the decrease was more than -70 %. However in Austria, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Germany the decrease was less than -50 % (see Figure 1 and Table 1).
Tourism nights in the EU down by -95 % in April 2020 compared with April 2019
Recovery started slowly in May 2020
Looking at the monthly evolution, tourism recorded positive trends in January and February 2020, with increases of 4.6 % and 5.9 % respectively. In March 2020, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the start of a lockdown in most EU countries and the travel restrictions resulted in a sharp drop in overnight stays in EU tourist accommodation: -59 % compared with the previous month (February 2020) or -63 % compared with March 2019. The decline continued in April (-84 % compared with March 2020 or -95 % compared with April 2019).
In May, however, a slow recovery began (+ 168 % compared to the previous month, April 2020) which continued at a faster pace in June (+244 % compared with May). Nevertheless, May and June remained at very low levels compared to the same months a year ago (-89 % and –71 % respectively) (see Figure 2).
July 2020: nights spent in EU tourist accommodation increased by almost 90 % compared with January 2020
In seven EU countries, the number of domestic overnight stays in July 2020 exceeded last year's levels
In addition to the first semester 2020, this article includes data for July 2020 that confirms the trend observed in May and June, showing that tourism in terms of nights spent in tourist accommodation gradually restarted.
In July 2020, the recovery continued at an even faster pace, reaching more than half of July 2019 levels; the number of nights spent in EU tourist accommodation increased by almost 90 % compared with January 2020 (see Figure 2). This positive trend was observed in all EU Member states where data is available (see Table 2).
Figure 2 shows that the recovery in total tourist accommodation which started in May 2020 was reflected at a slower pace for hotels and similar establishments. Figure 3 looks at the data broken down by type of accommodation confirming that the increase in the number of nights spent was more significant for campsites or for rented holiday accommodation than for hotels.
While the recovery for domestic tourism started in May, incoming tourism remained at much lower levels
Since June 2020 most EU countries started limiting the travel restrictions imposed after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, other types of Covid-19 related restrictions were still in place, prompting domestic tourism instead of travelling abroad. Figure 4 shows that nights spent by residents are recovering quickly and tend to reach the levels of the previous year with just 22 % fewer nights spent in July 2020 compared with July 2019. In July 2020, residents of Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria and Slovenia spent more nights in tourist accommodation inside their own country than those spent the same month of 2019 (see Table 3). However in the seven-month period (January to July 2020), residents of Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Romania spent less than half tourism nights inside their own country compared with the same period in 2019.
On the other hand, nights spent by non-residents recover at a slower pace: 64 % fewer nights were spent in July 2020 compared with July 2019.
This trend is reflected in national data. For the seven-month period (January to July 2020) all Member states where data is available reported larger drops in the number of nights spent by non-residents compared with domestic nights spent (see Table 3). The largest drops in nights spent by foreign tourists were reported by Greece (-90 %), Romania and Italy (both -76 %).
Looking at the months January to July, in 2019 the share of domestic nights in total nights spent in tourist accommodation ranged from 50 % in June to 56 % in February. In January and in February 2020 similar shares were observed as in 2019 while they increased from March to April. Only 15 % of all nights spent in May in EU tourist accommodation were spent by non-residents (see Figure 5).
Intra-EU tourism has also begun recovering, faster than tourism from outside the EU
In July 2020, Eurostat launched a voluntary transmission of monthly accommodation data broken down by country / world geographical area of the guest. The purpose of this exercise is to contribute to the monitoring of the Covid-19 impact on the tourism sector and its recovery in the course of 2020. There are 25 countries, of which 20 EU Member States, participating in this voluntary exercise. This chapter gives some results based on this exercise, analysing data from January to July.
This data confirms the findings of the previous chapter: domestic tourism restarted faster than incoming tourism. Looking closer at the segment of incoming tourism, however, we notice that intra-EU tourism has also begun recovering faster than tourism from outside the EU (see Figure 6). Breaking down further, tourism from neighbouring countries is recovering even faster towards last year's levels.
Source data for tables and graphs
This article presents the short-term trends in nights spent in tourist accommodation in the European Union (EU), analysing monthly data provided by Member States.
Furthermore, this article is looking at monthly data on nights spent by country of origin. In July 2020, Eurostat launched a voluntary transmission of monthly accommodation data broken down by country / world geographical area of the guest. The purpose of this exercise is to contribute to the monitoring of the Covid-19 impact on the tourism sector and its recovery in the course of 2020. There are 25 countries, of which 20 EU Member States, participating in this voluntary exercise. The results are disseminated as an Excel file via the public part of CIRCABC (Tourism Statistics).
For the year-to-year evolution of the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation and a detailed analysis of 2019 annual data, see Tourism statistics - annual results for the accommodation sector.
The EU is a major tourist destination, with five Member States among the world’s top ten destinations for holidaymakers, according to UNWTO data. Tourism is an important activity in the EU which contributes to employment and economic growth, as well as to the development of rural, peripheral or less-developed areas. These characteristics drive the demand for reliable and harmonised statistics on this activity, as well as within the wider context of regional policy and sustainable development policy areas.
- Capacity and occupancy of tourist accommodation establishments (ESMS metadata file — tour_occ_esms)
- Regulation (EU) No 692/2011 of 6 July 2011 concerning European statistics on tourism and repealing Council Directive 95/57/EC.
- Regulation (EU) No 1051/2011 of 20 October 2011 implementing Regulation (EU) No 692/2011 concerning European statistics on tourism, as regards the structure of the quality reports and the transmission of the data.