In travel news for July 14, 2023 we talk about the surge in demand for some of Europes most popular destinations.
Despite concerns over crowding, labor unrest, and inflated prices, travelers are flocking to Europe in record numbers this summer. A surge in travel, often dubbed as "revenge travel," is driving crowds back to popular European destinations. However, this may be reviving the pre-pandemic challenge of overtourism.
The Associated Press recently reported that the return of crowds to Europe's top tourist spots is a reality. At world-renowned landmarks such as the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, tourists are enduring over two-hour-long waits. Similar scenes unfold at the primary Train station in Rome, Italy, and in the packed St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy.
This year, tourism is poised to surpass the numbers of 2019, a prediction that's coming to fruition in Europe's hotspots, including Barcelona, Spain; Rome, Italy; Athens, Greece; Venice, Italy; and Santorini, Greece. A large part of this surge is attributed to American visitors, who, after pandemic-induced savings and restricted movement, are seeking "revenge travel."
Despite the turmoil of labor unrest in Paris, France, and soaring airfare, the enthusiasm for travel remains undeterred. This is proving beneficial for hotels and restaurants that grappled to survive during the pandemic.
However, the unchecked level of visitors is unearthing an inconvenient truth. The rhetoric of making travel more sustainable and earth-friendly, which gained momentum in recent years, appears to have evaporated amidst the current travel frenzy. An official at the U.N. World Tourism Organization (WTO) expressed concern, indicating that the focus seems to have shifted toward recuperating losses and immediate revenue, overlooking sustainability.
Interestingly, some destinations are attempting to put brakes on the rampant tourism. For instance, in Florence, Italy, new short-term apartment rentals in the city center have been halted by the local administration. This measure aims at preventing further strain on the historic city.
However, it's worth mentioning that, despite the crowded scenes, travel within Europe still lags 10 percent behind 2019 levels. Various factors could contribute to this, such as Chinese tourists not having fully returned or travelers' reluctance to venture into countries neighboring Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict.
The panorama of post-pandemic travel is indeed multifaceted. While the revenge travel trend fuels the economy, overtourism looms large. The sustainability of tourism, especially in Europe’s popular destinations, remains a crucial topic that demands immediate attention. It’s still to early to say if this level of travel will continue for years or return to pre-pandemic norms.