The EU tourism industry is experiencing a strong recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first half of 2023, the number of nights spent in tourist accommodations reached its highest level in the past decade, signalling a notable resurgence in the industry’s performance in many countries.
In the first half of this year, there were 1 193 million nights spent in tourist accommodations, marking an increase of nearly 11 million compared to the same period in 2019 (1182 million, +0.9%). Additionally, there were 136 million more overnight stays than in the first half of 2022 (1057 million, +12.9%). In comparison to 2021 (406.8 million), this year recorded 786 million more overnight stays, and compared to 2020 (474.7 million), 718 million more overnight stays were recorded.
All months surpassed the previous year’s figures, with the highest increase recorded in January (45%) and February (27%).
Looking at the country data, all member states have seen an increase in overnight stays compared to 2022, with Hungary being the sole exception, experiencing a slight decrease of -0.3%. Cyprus (39.3%), Malta (30.5%), and Slovakia (28.7%) stand out with the most substantial increases in overnight stays. However, about half of the countries have yet to reach the figures recorded in the first half of 2019. Notably, Latvia (-23.8%), Slovakia (-16.0%), Hungary (-12.2%), and Lithuania (-11.7%) are still to get close to 2019 figures.
A strong boost to this year’s numbers came from the recovery of international tourism. In comparison with 2022, there was a 22.5% increase in the number of nights spent by foreign tourists, while domestic tourism saw a 5.8% increase.
In total, foreign tourists accounted for 545 million nights in the first half of 2023 or 46% of all overnight stays. In recent years, the proportion of foreign tourists has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Starting at 47% in the first half of 2019, it dropped to 36% in the first half of 2020, and further decreased to 21% in 2021, before demonstrating a strong rebound in 2022, climbing to 42%.