Eurostat: Tourism nights booked online fall by 47 per cent in 2020

Europe: The latest data released by Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union [EU], revealed that nights booked online in short-term rental accommodation dropped by 47 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, as the pandemic took hold on the travel industry.

According to Eurostat, guests spent close to 272 million nights in short-term rentals in the EU on booking platforms, including Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group and TripAdvisor.

Although tourism nights booked in January and February 2020 were slightly above 2019 levels, the global lockdowns brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak brought leisure travel to a near standstill in the ensuing months [-93.2 per cent and April and -85.6 per cent in May, compared to 2019].

The easing of travel restrictions last summer triggered a partial recovery in nights booked, albeit still behind 2019 levels [-38.3 per cent in July and -25.8 per cent in August].

However, Eurostat data also revealed that the second wave of the pandemic in the latter months of 2020 led to an inevitable dive in booking numbers [-71.8 per cent in November].

Eurostat
[Credit: Eurostat]
As outlined previously, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent enforcement of lockdowns led to a shift towards drive-to, domestic destinations, with the uncertainty over international travel encouraging travellers to look closer to home for their holidays.

That said, the short-term rental market was unevenly impacted across the continent, with countries such as Spain [-58.1 per cent] and Italy [-60.2 per cent] being affected more severely than France [-25 per cent] and Germany [-20.6 per cent]. Eight countries [Czechia, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Hungary, Malta, Slovenia and Iceland] registered drops of more than 60 per cent.

Meanwhile, traditional touristic markets around the Mediterranean Sea, as well as big cities, felt heavier impacts than the European average. This was evident in urban destinations such as Rome [-78 per cent], Barcelona [-75.6 per cent] and Prague [-73.5 per cent], where around 75 per cent of guest nights were lost in 2020.

The breakdown of guest nights by the origin of the guests showed that domestic tourism only fell moderately [-6.7 per cent], while international tourism shrunk by more than two thirds. The share of international guests in countries such as Spain, Italy and Croatia was high prior to the pandemic [67.7 per cent, 74.1 per cent and 95.4 per cent respectively) and therefore impacted more significantly, while the likes of France and Germany were less heavily affected as the shares of international guests were much lower [42.7 per cent and 36.9 per cent], and some regions even saw an increase in the number of guest nights booked.

The data on short stay accommodation offered via Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group and TripAdvisor is the result of a landmark data-sharing partnership between the European Commission and the four private collaborative economy platforms signed in March 2020. Eurostat released its first key data on the European short-term rental sector in July this year.

Eurostat added that it would publish its first data for 2021 in the first quarter of 2022.

At the same time, the European Commission is consulting on regulating the short-term rental market across the bloc, with the option of a single set of pan-European rules being considered.

A public consultation period on short-term rental accommodation services, which had been open since 27 September, closed earlier this week.