Not surprisingly, European cities have been more hit than nations or regions
While in 2019 there was clear evidence of the economic significance of contemporary urban tourism, the past year has shown a negative average annual growth rate in international bednights in both the ECM Report cities (-77.0%) and the EU 28 nations (-57.8%).
Cities also decreased much more than other regions (-68.5% versus -32.6%) in terms of total bednight volumes. Further analysis revealed that the average growth rate of bed capacity for ECM Report cities was -5.0% in 2020. Regarding the bed occupancy, the benchmark average was only 21.3%. Unlike previous years, winter (i.e., pre-pandemic period) was the busiest season with an average of 1.67 bednights per citizen.
Indeed, Europe owns the world’s most visited cities and regions as well as leading outbound markets. The impact is economic and social, affecting the livelihoods of tourism and transport workers and suppliers, as well as their families and whole communities. Destinations are all hit, no matter of size, geographical location, attractiveness… their reputations as safe places are highly challenged.
Still, the tourism sector is in a unique position to contribute to wider recovery plans and actions.
Despite this challenging scenario, DMOs (Destination Marketing Organisations) are almost in total agreement that the crisis will lead the land of travel and tourism towards a more sustainable future (89% agrees partly or completely, ECM DMO Funding Survey 2020). Also, most of the DMOs feel that the crisis has strengthened their political capital.
“As exposed during ECM Autumn Conference, European cities are stepping out of their comfort zone in many areas beyond tourism (climate crisis, social tourism and citizen empowerment, racism and stereotypes in tourism, destination wellbeing, new business of events, attractivity of the tourism sector in terms of career path… ). At the moment, rebuilding tourism is a high political priority in many destinations and DMOs are showing the relevance when coordinating and operating the recovery efforts.” concluded Petra Stušek, ECM President.