Some 80% of Europeans continue to travel for their holidays according to a new Eurobarometer survey on ‘The attitudes of Europeans towards tourism 2010’. Only 20% of over 30,000 randomly selected citizens were almost certain that they will not travel in 2010, which is significantly below the proportion of non-travellers in 2009 (33%). EU citizens increasingly prefer to spend their holidays in traditional tourist destinations (57%), while 28% would rather go “off the beaten track” to emerging destinations. Tourism is one of Europe’s most important service industries, accounting for 5% of Europe’s GDP and 6% of employment.
The objectives of this survey were, to study:
- Respondents’ travel profiles in 2009 – distinguishing between “short private” and holiday trips
- reasons why respondents did not go on holiday in 2009
- characteristics of citizens’ main holiday trip in 2009 (e.g. method of transport used)
- the financial aspects of taking a holiday (e.g. how to save money while on holiday)
- various attitudes of citizens towards tourism (e.g. their preferred holiday destinations)
- respondents’ vacation plans for 2010.
Travel trends in 2009
- About two-thirds (65%) of EU citizens said they had travelled – for private reasons – at least once in 2009
- 27% had made at least one holiday trip and at least one “short private” trip, the same proportion had made at least one holiday trip but no “short private” trips and 11% had made at least one “short private” trip but no holiday trips.
- One-third of EU citizens had not travelled for leisure purposes in 2009.
- Countries where respondents were less likely to have travelled for leisure purposes included some Eastern European countries – Hungary (57%), Latvia (54%) and Romania (51%) – and a few Southern European countries – Malta (58%), Portugal (48%) and Italy (44%).
- Comparing travel for leisure purposes in 2008 and 2009, it could be seen that, although similar proportions of EU citizens had travelled at least once, there had been a decrease in those who had made at least one “short private” trip and at least one holiday trip (from 39% in 2008 to 27% in 2009). Conversely, the proportion of EU citizens who had made at least one holiday trip but no “short private” ones had increased in that timeframe.
Outlook for 2010
- As to how many EU citizens would actually take a vacation in 2010, no clear picture emerged.
- At the time of the survey (February 2010), 28% of EU citizens were undecided about the type of vacation they wanted to take.
- At the time of the survey, the proportion of EU citizens who were certain that they would not travel in 2010 (21%) was below the proportion of those who had not travelled in 2009 (33%).
- It remains to be seen what proportion of the currently undecided ones (28%) would eventually take a holiday.
- Turkish respondents were the most likely not to be planning a holiday in 2010 (44%); they were followed by respondents in Hungary (40%), Slovakia (36%), Italy and Malta (both 35%). The proportions of those still undecided about their vacation plans in 2010 were the highest in Italy and Portugal (both 35%).
- EU citizens who were already planning a 2010 holiday (49% in total) were most likely to be considering one of 4-13 consecutive nights (19%).
- Fifteen percent of EU citizens said they were planning one of at least two weeks or more.
- One or more short-stay trips (one to three nights away from home) was the option chosen by 7% of EU citizens and 8% were thinking of a combination of longer holidays and shorter trips.
- When asked about their 2010 holiday destination, roughly a third (32%) of EU citizens said they were planning to stay in their home country.
- Comparing 2009 and 2010 results showed that EU citizens were now less likely to be planning a holiday outside of the EU (15% vs. 20% in 2009).
Travel budgets in 2009 and 2010
- Across almost all countries included in this study, the largest proportion of respondents – who had not taken a holiday in 2009 – said this for financial reasons.
- Such reasons were cited by more than 6 in 10 respondents in Bulgaria (65%), Romania (62%), Hungary and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (both 61%).
- EU citizens’ perceptions about their holiday budgets have slightly improved compared to 2009: almost half (46%) of those who were planning to spend a holiday away from home in 2010 said
they had sufficient funds to do this – by comparison, in 2009, this proportion was 41% (five percentage points lower).
- Nonetheless, about 4 in 10 (39%) EU citizens said they would need to make extra savings in order to take their planned holidays and 1 in 10 said they had serious financial problems that could impact holiday plans.
In Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania, of those respondents who were planning a vacation in 2010, a quarter or less felt they could afford this without any problems.
- When asked which holiday leisure activities EU citizens would give up first if savings were needed when they were actually on vacation, the largest proportions of interviewees “beauty or wellness treatments” (24%) and shopping (21%).
Holiday focus and attractions
- The largest proportion of holidaymakers across the EU (37%) said that the major motivation for their main holiday in 2009 had been “rest and recreation”. About a fifth (19%) had wanted a sun/beach holiday and 17% said the main objective had been to visit friends or relatives.
- In almost all countries surveyed, respondents who preferred to spend their holidays in “traditional” tourist destinations outnumbered those who favoured visiting “alternative or emerging” tourist locations. Countries with a high proportion of respondents who preferred “emerging” tourist destinations were Latvia, Denmark, Norway, Slovenia, Iceland, Sweden and Croatia (37%-39%).
- Those respondents attracted to non-conventional destinations were most likely to expect that this would allow them to explore local cultures and lifestyles (45%) compared to 12% who thought there would be lower prices.
- When deciding on a holiday destination, the largest proportions (32%) of EU citizens named a location’s overall attractiveness as the key consideration. Cultural heritage (25%) and options for entertainment (16%) were the second and third most mentioned factors that influenced a choice of destination.
Arranging a holiday
- Almost half (48%) of holidaymakers from the EU had travelled to their main destination by car or motorbike, and approximately one-third (35%) had taken a flight.
- In almost all countries surveyed (27 out of 32), at least half of holidaymakers had organised their holiday on their own. The proportions of holidaymakers who had done this were the highest in Croatia (83%), Turkey (82%) and Hungary (80%).
- Thirteen percent of EU citizens had booked travel tickets or accommodation through a travel agency. About a fifth of EU citizens who took a holiday in 2009 had opted for a package tour or all-inclusive holiday, either booked via the Internet (11%) or through a travel agency (10%).
- Fifty-eight percent of EU citizens said that the views of friends and colleagues were the (first or second) most important sources of information when making decisions about travel and holiday plans. The Internet was considered to be the main source by 42% of respondents, and a lower proportion (31%) mentioned personal experience.
- Holidaymakers who had taken a vacation with a cultural focus were less likely than their counterparts to rely on personal experience (25% compared to, for example, 32% of those who had wanted rest and recreation) and more likely to rely on guidebooks and magazines (17% compared to, for example, 10% of holidaymakers who had wanted a sun/beach holiday).
- As in 2009, the largest difference in terms of information sources when comparing respondents with a preference for “off the beaten track” holidays and those who preferred more “traditional” destinations was seen when looking at the importance of the Internet: 51% of the former respondents felt that it was an important source of information when planning a holiday compared to 39% of the latter.
Over 30,000 randomly selected citizens aged 15 and over were interviewed for the Eurobarometer survey in February 2010 in the 27 EU Member States as well as in Norway, Iceland, Croatia, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It is for the third time in row that the Commission has done such an extensive survey, which offers to all tourism stakeholders a wealth of information, presented analytically in country and demographic categories.
The Commission intends to conduct this kind of survey once a year in order to closely follow short and medium term travel and tourism trends of European citizens. These surveys will allow tourism stakeholders of the countries surveyed to react to changing trends in tourism demand, and so will constitute an important instrument for tourism policy.