There has been a surge of enthusiasm among Chinese and Japanese travellers to explore European destinations but the weather is a key factor in decision making. Gemma Harris reports

According to the latest Long-Haul Travel Barometer published by the European Travel Commission (ETC) and Eurail BV, which tracks the travel intentions of people from from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan and the US, there has been a renewed interest in European travel – particularly from Asian travellers.

Notably, the most significant surge in travel interest comes from Chinese travellers, with 74 per cent expressing their intention to visit Europe between September and the end of the year, representing a 10 per cent increase compared to the same period last year and an even more significant leap compared to the autumn of 2019.

This travel eagerness is being led by those between 34 and 49 years old (83 per cent) and those 50 years and above (70 per cent).

Similarly, Japanese travellers are also making their mark on this trend with a 10 per cent surge in their intent to travel to Europe compared to the same period of 2022.

Following the publication of the report, Miguel Sanz, the ETC’s president, says: “After a long period of disruption due to the Covid pandemic, Europe is reestablishing its connection with Asian tourists.”

While these Asian markets stand out in this enthusiasm to explore Europe, the US and Canada have also witnessed a slight uptick in enthusiasm for European travel.

However, the same is not reflected for Australians and Brazilians, with both countries recording a 3 per cent decrease compared to the previous year. This decline is attributed to increased interest in exploring other destinations and the allure of the Southern Hemisphere’s summer, which has led to a boost in domestic travel.

High prices associated with travel have also been identified as a deterrent in these markets. Across all markets, 23 per cent of respondents say they will not compromise on in-destination experiences despite rising travel costs.

To adapt to rising prices, tourists are embracing new strategies to maximise experiences while minimising costs, and it has been increasingly popular to take advantage of low-cost flights and rail passes for convenient inter-European travel.

In terms of the attraction to Europe, the report highlights that culture and history remain the biggest draws for tourists in five out of the six markets, with the exception being China, where there is a strong interest in gastronomic and urban experiences.

“Our appeal remains strong to long-haul travellers worldwide, with Europe’s timeless culture and history as the biggest draw. It’s particularly encouraging to see the growing popularity of rail and increased interest in slow travel among tourists. Now more than ever, it’s important that we pay special attention to the responsible development of the tourism industry,” adds Sanz.

There has been a 7 per cent increase in “slow travel”, while iconic landmarks and world-renowned sites remain popular draws for travellers. Additionally, climate considerations are important for Chinese (39 per cent) and Australians and Brazilians (34 per cent).

Transportation preferences among long-haul travellers are also evolving. Australian travellers are shifting toward train travel, with an 8 per cent increase in the purchase of train passes. For Canadian tourists, rail travel remains top, with 34 per cent inclined to purchase a rail pass. US travellers are also drawn to rail transport due to its affordability and efficient travel times.

However, low-cost flights are the most popular choice overall. Even in markets where rail travel was traditionally preferred, such as Brazil, air travel is gaining popularity, with a 13 per cent increase in interest in low-cost flights. A similar trend is observed in the Canadian market, where the popularity of cheap flights rose by 9 per cent.