Prepare for a very crowded and expensive summer vacation

Deniza Cristian 26/06/2023 | 15:18

Tourism is on track to recovery and to reach close to pre-pandemic levels. While this is very good news for tour operators, hotels, restaurants and airlines, for tourists, not so much. Crowded popular destinations and high demand are pushing the prices up making the 2023 summer vacation one the most expensive ever.

Macro commentary by eToro analyst for Romania, Bogdan Maioreanu


The summer packages became more expensive this year according to travel package aggregator Check 24. The largest relative increase in price were in the most affordable destinations like Bulgaria and Turkey. The daily price for Sunny Beach in Bulgaria on the Black Sea is 16.6% higher than last year. Three destinations in Turkey are also showing a two digit increase this year: Antalya/Belek with 15.9%, Side/Antalya with 15.5% and Kemer/Beldibi with 13.6%. Other popular destinations are showing the same pattern, becoming this year more expensive than in 2022. Mallorca in Spain, Kusadasi in Turkey and Hammamet in Tunisia over 12.%. Ibiza – the party goers paradise – and Rhodes in Greece are 11% more expensive with Crete, Madeira and Lanzarote showing over 10% increase in accommodation prices. Even one of the preferred destinations for Romanian tourists – Halkidiki is showing a 4.3% increase in prices.

The travel site is also mentioning two destinations that are less expensive than last summer: Sardinia with a 2.6% decrease and an exotic but far away destination – Cancun in Mexico, which is 12% cheaper.

The second UNWTO World Tourism Barometer of the year shows that the sector’s swift recovery has continued into 2023. Overall, international arrivals reached 80% of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2023. An estimated 235 million tourists travelled internationally in the first three months, more than double the same period of 2022. Tourism has continued to show its resilience. Revised data for 2022 shows over 960 million tourists travelling internationally last year, meaning two-thirds (66%) of pre-pandemic numbers were recovered.

In the first quarter of this year, occupancies at European hotels were only slightly below 2019, while intra-Europe air traffic had reached over 90% of 2019 levels. Overall EMEA air traffic is on track to recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2024 according to Fitch Rating. They expect a strong 2023 summer season that could result in European hotel occupancies exceeding pre-pandemic levels and air traffic reaching close to 2019 levels (from about 86% at the start of the year) in 2023, before fully recovering in 2024.

Recovery was not equal around the globe according to UNWTO. The Middle East saw the strongest performance as the only region exceeding 2019 arrivals (+15%) and the first to recover pre-pandemic numbers in a full quarter. Europe reached 90% of pre-pandemic levels, driven by strong intra-regional demand. Africa reached 88% and the Americas about 85% of 2019 levels. Asia and the Pacific accelerated its recovery with  54% of pre-pandemic levels, but this upward trend is set to accelerate now that most destinations, particularly China, have reopened.

Taking all this into account the summer of 2023 will not only be one of the most expensive in recent years but also one of the most crowded since the pandemic. To add to the stress of the tourists there are strikes programmed this summer like the ones in Italy, France and Spain so careful planning will be required to reach the desired destination.

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