The European Travel Commission reveals that international travellers to Europe will be prioritising safe destinations and affordable prices this year. Jenny Southan reports

International travel fro long-haul markets to Europe is “predominantly optimistic”, says the European Travel Commission (ETC) and Eurail BV in its latest Long-Haul Travel Barometer.

The study offers a snapshot of 2024 travel sentiments and plans for the first four months. It analyses intention to travel to Europe in seven overseas markets: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea and the US. Key findings for 2024 include:

  • High levels of optimism towards overseas travel in 2024 have been recorded in Brazil (76 per cent), Australia (73 per cent), Canada (72 per cent), and South Korea (71 per cent).
  • In the US, intention to travel internationally remains consistent with 2023 levels, with 60 per cent of respondents expressing a desire to do so.
  • Japan has seen a modest 5 per cent increase in respondents planning an overseas journey since 2023, yet intention remains relatively low at 35 per cent.
  • China is the only market where travel sentiment is in decline, recording a 14 per cent decrease in long-distance travel intention. However, 64 per cent of respondents still plan to embark on a long-haul trip in 2024.
  • Among those eager to travel overseas in all key markets in 2024, 75 per cent plan to visit Europe, with the remaining 25 per cent considering other regions.

ETC president Miguel Sanz says: “The evolving landscape of international travel demands that Europe adapt to the diverse preferences and expectations of travellers. It is especially clear that safety and economic factors play a pivotal role in travellers’ choice of destinations. Nevertheless, Europe’s enduring appeal and the resilience of its tourism sector remain steadfast.

“In 2024, European tourism faces a promising yet challenging year, requiring the industry to manage the recovering consumer demand and embrace responsible and sustainable practices.”

Safety, infrastructure and affordability key to selecting a destination

For travellers eager to visit Europe this year, safety stands as the primary factor influencing their destination choice, with 45 per cent of respondents across all markets prioritising a secure travel environment. High-quality tourism infrastructure ranks second, with 38 per cent considering it essential.

Renowned landmarks and affordable services also hold significant weight in destination selection, with 35 per cent of overseas travellers naming these as their top priorities. Notably, Canada, the US and Australia stand out for their strong focus on affordability. Pleasant weather conditions play an important role in travel decisions, being considered crucial by 31 per cent of respondents on average.

Beyond these primary considerations, Korean and Chinese holidaymakers exhibit a strong preference for destinations that preserve their natural and cultural heritage, with 33 per cent and 32 per cent of respondents prioritising this factor, respectively. This trend indicates a unique preference for destinations that maintain their authenticity.

Among those choosing not to travel overseas to Europe in 2024, 36 per cent cite substantial travel costs as the main deterrent, with limited vacation time being another significant factor for 12 per cent of respondents.

A mix of optimism and caution shapes travel plans in early 2024

Despite the challenges posed by rising travel costs and the growing appeal of alternative regions, Europe still holds its appeal to long-haul travellers in the first four months of 2024, January to April:

  • Chinese (50 per cent) and Brazilians (49 per cent) show the strongest intent to visit Europe. In both markets, the positive sentiment is driven by younger, higher-income respondents.
  • Australia and South Korea present moderate travel sentiment, with close to 40 per cent considering European trips by April.
  • Canadians and Americans express interest in travelling to Europe this year, but enthusiasm remains subdued in early 2024. Less than a third of respondents in each market (28 per cent) are planning a European trip during this period.
  • Similarly, despite the increase in travel intention among Japanese travellers this year, the level of optimism for visiting Europe in January-April is minimal, with only 14 per cent contemplating a trip to the region.

Timelines and budgets

On average, international travellers plan to visit three European countries during their next trip. To accommodate their busy itineraries, most (58 per cent) are considering holidays ranging from one to two weeks. Australians plan to stay even longer, with half of the respondents considering trips lasting more than two weeks.

The data also reveals diverse daily budget preferences, underscoring the need for travel providers to offer experiences that cater to a variety of visitors, from high-end spenders to budget-conscious travellers. Across all markets, 38 per cent of respondents are willing to spend more than €200 per day – a budget particularly popular among Chinese (78 per cent) and Brazilian (50 per cent) travellers.

A mid-range budget of €100-€200 stands as the second most favoured option, chosen by 31 per cen of long-haul travellers. This budget range is especially popular in Australia (40 per cent) and South Korea (42 per cent). Only 21 per cent of respondents were considering a daily budget of less than €100, though this number counted 36 per cent of Canadian travellers.