Travel a ‘top priority’ for Europeans but retail spend to be reined in, says ETC

By Faye Bartle |

European traveller

Less than half of European travellers who responded (47%) plan to spend the same amount on retail and leisure and recreation purchases when travelling in H1 2023. Photo: Shutterstock.

Just over three quarters of European travellers (77%) intend to take a trip during the first six months of 2023, but will cut down on retail spending to stay on budget, says research by European Travel Commission (ETC).

Its latest report, titled Monitoring Sentiment for Domestic and Intra-European Travel, provides insights into the travel plans of Europeans in spring to summer of this year.

The study shows that, despite financial uncertainty, with soaring energy costs and prices rising for everyday essential such as food and clothing affecting many people, there is a strong determination to travel.

The share of European travellers intending to travel represents a healthy increase of 16% compared to last year’s figures.

They’re showing a growing desire to travel outside their own country, with 63% of respondents favouring international trips within Europe (marking double-digit growth of 13% in just one year).

Furthermore, 58% of respondents plan to travel at least twice, either domestically or internationally, in the coming months.

Travel budgets are holding strong, too, with the average planned holiday budget (per person per trip, including accommodation, transportation and travel activities) is up 6% from a year ago, with 37% of Europeans set to spend between US$1077-US$2,155 (€1,000 -€2,000) per person per trip for their next holiday.

An additional 19% will spend more, exceeding the US$US$2,15 (€2,000) mark.

However, the outlook is not bright for retail spending on items such as electronics and clothing, as well as leisure and recreation purchases for concerts, dining out, and sports, says the research.

Less than half of respondents (47%) plan to spend the same amount in these categories, while only 8% are considering increasing their expenses.

European travellers

The ETC research shows that 58% of respondents plan to travel at least twice, either domestically or internationally, in the coming months. Photo: Shutterstock.

“The recent figures show that travel remains a top priority for Europeans in the first half of 2023,” said Luís Araújo, President of ETC.

“This is welcome news, especially considering much of the intended travel is planned within Europe.

“These trends paint a hopeful picture for the sector this year, and prove its resilience in the face of global economic challenges.

“Now, to capitalise on consumer confidence and early bookings, the industry should closely follow and anticipate shifts in consumer needs and tailor its offers accordingly.”

How European travellers are spending smarter

The ETC research paints a picture of how the current financial climate is influencing decision-making.

It reveals that rising travel costs worry 23% of Europeans, while an additional 18% say that their personal finances and economic situation are preoccupying their thoughts.

Travellers are responding to the financial challenges with a ‘more proactive and flexible purchase behaviour’.

Europeans are committing to their trips earlier than a year ago with 44% having already fully or partially booked their next holiday, representing a 7% increase over 2022.

When it comes to choosing a destination, ‘attractive deals and bargains’ (17%) are of key concern, followed by ‘pleasant weather’ (18%).

More behavioural changes to note is around their spending habits during the trip.

Respondents in the ETC research revealed that they plan to reduce their shopping at the destination (18%), book less expensive accommodation (16%) and choose more affordable restaurants (15%) to fit into their holiday budget.

Purchasing all-inclusive packages and visiting fewer attractions with an entrance fee are also considered by 12% and 10% of respondents, respectively.

Notably, travel is the only discretionary expense that people are prepared to maintain (59%) or increase (16%) spending on in today’s economic conditions.

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