The team of analysts have been busy scrutinising the air ticketing data for signs of travel recovery and have uncovered a remarkable story of hope – the European summer season may experience its first long-haul visitors from the USA since 2019.

U.S travellers flock to Europe this summer

ForwardKeys has long encouraged governments and tourism organisations to announce their border re-openings as far in advance as possible. We observed that this greatly benefited destinations such as Greece and Portugal for the 2020 summer season and there appears to be a case of Deja Vu for Greece, but now we have newcomers to the early announcement club: Iceland and Croatia. Welcoming vaccinated travellers is not only a trend but a fast-growing reality.

The top cities for vaccinated US travellers to Croatia places Dubrovnik in prime position with 34% shares of total international travellers. The capital, Zagreb, is number 2 with 31% shares and coastal Split is number 3 with 31% shares.

Croatian hotels and travel operators should also prepare themselves for travellers travelling in multiple numbers, not solo. Indeed, the data points to couples and families being the main markets travelling this summer to Croatia from the USA.

“The ticketing data is showing some interesting tips for hoteliers and tourism organisations to seize this summer in Croatia and Greece,” says Luis Millan, Market Research Manager at ForwardKeys.

“Not only are US traveller travelling in pairs or more, but the average length of stay is up from 15 days in 2019 to 24 days in 2021,” adds Millan.

U.S travellers fly in style – is this revenge travel?

“What is interesting to mention is the fact that there is more high-class travel happening this year, compared to 2019”, says Millan.

This is particularly visible in the case of US travellers to EU countries. Overall, there has been an increase in the share of Economy Premium and Business class tickets by 5.8% for all international tickets to EU, and by 7.1% in the case of US travellers. Italy remains the number one E.U destination for U.S. travellers, even though it is still way behind 2019 levels. And the shift towards luxurious travel is highlighted greatly on this Trans-Atlantic route with an increase in shares of high-class cabins by 14%.

“We have also checked France as it is famous for luxury travel in Europe and similar as for Italy, it is still 80% behind 2019 levels, but 25.3% of tickets issued for travel from the U.S. to France are of high-class cabins which is an increase by 9.4 pp,” says Millan.

Italy and France still do not offer entry to fully vaccinated travellers, so we may see an increase in travellers once they make this announcement as per Greece and Croatia.

If you would like to know more about the road to recovery for Europe, why not register to attend our June 7 webinar with the CEO of the European Travel Commission?