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Seasonality in tourism demand

Data from July 2010. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. This article focuses on the seasonal pattern of tourism demand in the European Union (EU), participation in tourism by EU residents, the trips they made and the number of nights spent on those trips. Tourism demand includes all trips made, regardless of whether they were spent intourist accommodation (such as hotels or campsites) or in less formal and often unpaid types of accommodation (such as owned dwellings or accommodation provided for free by friends of relatives).

Figure 1a !istribution of holiday trips in the four "uarters of #$$% &sum'1$$(), EU*#+

Figure 1b !istribution of nights spent in the four "uarters of #$$% &sum'1$$(), EU*#+

Table 1 ,hare of the resident population (aged 1- or over) who went on holiday at least once during the reference "uarter of #$$%, bro.en down by duration of trip

Table # /umber of trips and nights spent away by EU residents in #$$%, bro.en down by "uarter

Table 0 1verage length of holiday trips, per "uarter, #$$%

Figure #a !istribution of short holiday trips in the four "uarters of #$$% &sum'1$$(), EU*#+

Figure #b !istribution of long holiday trips in the four "uarters of #$$% &sum'1$$(), EU*#+

Figure #c ,hare of short and long holiday trips, by "uarter, #$$%, EU*#+

Table 2 3oliday trips made by the resident population in #$$%, bro.en down by length of stay and distribution per "uarter

Figure 0a !istribution of domestic holiday trips in the four "uarters of #$$% &sum'1$$(), EU*#+

Figure 0b !istribution of holiday trips abroad in the four "uarters of #$$% &sum'1$$(), EU*#+

Figure 0c ,hare of domestic and outbound holiday trips, by "uarter, #$$%, EU*#+

Table - 3oliday trips made by the resident population in #$$%, bro.en down by destination and distribution per "uarter

Figure 2a !istribution of business trips in #$$% &sum'1$$(), EU*#+

Figure 2b ,hare of holiday and business trips, by "uarter, #$$%, EU*#+

Figure -a /umber of holiday trips per "uarter, #$$2 and #$$%, EU*#+

Figure -b !istribution of holiday trips per "uarter, #$$2 and #$$% &sum of four "uarters in each year ' 1$$(),EU* #+

Figure 4a /umber of nights spent away per "uarter, #$$2 and #$$%, EU*#+

Figure 4b !istribution of nights spent away per "uarter, #$$2 and #$$% &sum of four "uarters in each year ' 1$$(),EU*#+

This analysis from the point of view of the demand side complements another article on seasonality in the tourist accommodation sector in which the seasonal bias in the supply by the tourist accommodation sector is discussed.
Contents
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1 Main statistical findings

o o o o o o
3 &onte't

1.1 Overall seasonal pattern 1.2 Proportion of population on holiday 1.3 Length of holidays 1.4 Do estic versus a!road 1." #usiness trips 1.$ %volution over ti e 2 Data sources and availa!ility

4 (ee also " )urther %urostat infor ation

o o o o o o o

".1 Pu!lications ".2 Main ta!les ".3 Data!ase ".4 Dedicated section "." (ource data for ta!les* figures and ".$ Methodology - Metadata ".. Other infor ation $ %'ternal lin/s aps on this page +M( %'cel,

5ain statistical findings


Overall seasonal pattern
Europeans take 46% of their holidays in the third quarter of the year 6n #$$%, tourism demand was concentrated in the third "uarter, with more than one in three holiday trips made in 7uly, 1ugust or ,eptember. 8hen ta.ing into account the duration of the trips, the seasonal pattern was even more pronounced, with EU residents spending 24 ( of all nights away on holiday in the third "uarter of #$$%. ,hort holiday trips, domestic holidays and business trips tended to smoothen the seasonality of tourism demand. The increasing popularity of short trips slightly reduced the seasonal bias in the period #$$2*#$$%.

Proportion of population on holiday


Almost half of the EU population went on holiday in the 3rd quarter of !!" !uring the third "uarter of #$$%, nearly half (29 () of all EU residents went on holiday at least once with at least one overnight stay (see Table 1). !uring the other three "uarters of the year, far fewer EU residents went on holiday, ranging from around one in four to one in three persons. 6n all countries, the period 7uly*,eptember was the most popular time to go on holiday. The biggest infra*annual variation was observed in :yprus, where 90 ( of the population went on holiday in the third "uarter of #$$% and only 14 ( or less travelled at other times of the year. 8hen loo.ing at holidays of at least 2 nights, the share of the population that travelled during the third "uarter (0- () was almost double that during the second "uarter (1% (). !uring the first and fourth "uarter of #$$%, only 10 ( of the population went on holiday for at least 2 nights.

#en$th of holidays
%ore than one in three holidays took pla&e durin$ the third quarter' (n terms of ni$hts spent away) 46 % were in the third quarter of !!") with an even stron$er *ias for lon$ trips 8hile the previous section focused on participation in tourism, i.e. the share of the population that went on holiday at least once during the reference "uarter, this section ta.es a closer loo. at the time people spend on holiday and the number of nights they spent away. The number of trips made by EU residents in the first and the last "uarter of #$$% were both around #$ ( of the total number of annual trips (see Figure 1a and the left part of Table #). 8ith some differences, this conclusion holds for all 5ember ,tates. ;nly in :yprus did the first and last "uarter account for less than 1$ ( of trips. 6n the second "uarter < largely overlapping with the spring and in many countries with Easter < a slightly higher number of trips was recorded compared to the first and last "uarter. ;n average across the EU, #4 ( of holidays were ta.en in this "uarter. Unsurprisingly, the third "uarter was the most popular period for going on holiday. 5ore than one in three (02 () holiday trips in #$$% was made in 7uly, 1ugust or ,eptember.

8hen loo.ing at the highest average absolute difference between the four "uarterly figures and the average over the "uarters, the strongest seasonal pattern in tourism demand was observed in :yprus, where +$ ( of all holiday trips were made in the third "uarter. This "uarter was also particularly popular for =ree. and ,lovenian tourists (both 2- () and for 6talian and >ulgarian tourists (both 20 (). The least pronounced seasonal pattern was recorded for =erman tourists, who showed the most e"ual spread over the four "uarters of the year #1 (, #- (, #% ( and #- (. ?esidents of 6reland, ,weden, Finland and ,pain also tended to spread their holiday trips over the year more evenly. 1n analysis of the seasonal pattern of the number of nights spent on holiday < in other words the length of trips < shows a similar but more pronounced distribution (see Figure 1b and the right part of Table #). 8hile 02( of all trips were made in the third "uarter, the number of nights spent on holiday in the third "uarter accounted for 24 ( of the total in #$$%. This means a longer average duration of trips (see Table 0). The average trip made in the first, second and fourth "uarter lasted 2 to - days (nights), in the third "uarter this rose to slightly over a wee. (+.2 overnight stays for holidays ta.en by EU residents). ;nly one 5ember ,tate recorded more than half of its holiday trips during the third "uarter (:yprus, +$ (), but residents of eight 5ember ,tates spent more than half of their holiday nights away during the third "uarter. The highest seasonal pea. in terms of the third "uarter@s share in nights spent on holiday was observed in =reece (4+ (), 6taly (40 () and ,lovenia (-% (). 1gain, the seasonal pattern was less pronounced in the "uarterly number of nights spent away by =erman, ,wedish and Finnish tourists. Unsurprisingly, the latter two countries also recorded the highest number of holiday trips per person (+ trips per year in Finland, - trips per year in ,weden). 6n other words, and as one could eApect, more trips per person resulted in a more even spread of the trips throughout the year. 8hen loo.ing at the brea.down by duration of trips (see Figures # and Table 2), short trips of 1 to 0 overnight stays were distributed more evenly over the year compared to longer trips of at least 2 overnight stays. :ontrary to the general conclusions above, the second "uarter was the most popular for ta.ing short trips (#9 ( of all short holiday trips on average for the EU, compared to #+ ( for the third "uarter). 6n % 5ember ,tates, short holiday trips in BspringB outnumbered short trips in the main summer season. French, !utch and Cortuguese tourists made more than 0$ ( of their short holiday trips in the second "uarter. 1gain, :yprus showed the strongest seasonal bias with 9- ( of short trips ta.en in 7uly, 1ugust and ,eptember. 3owever, for long holiday trips, 22 ( of the annual number of long trips made by EU residents was ta.en in the third "uarter, by far the preferred season for ma.ing long trips. 6n all countries, the third "uarter was the top season for going on holiday. 6n 9 EU 5ember ,tates, at least half of long holiday trips were ta.en in the third "uarter, rising to 4$( or more in =reece and ,lovenia.

+omesti& versus a*road


Only in the third quarter) the share of trips a*road e,&eeded - % of the total 6n #$$%, EU residents made over +%$ $$$ holiday trips in their own 5ember ,tates (domestic holiday trips) and nearly #2- $$$ holiday trips abroad (see Table -). The spread of domestic and trips abroad over the four "uarters of the year is relatively comparable, with a slightly stronger seasonal pattern for trips abroad (see Figures 0a and 0b). The number of domestic holidays ta.en during the pea. "uarter (the third "uarter) eAceeded the number ta.en in the trough "uarter (the first "uarter) by +9 ( and the number of holiday trips abroad more than doubled in the pea. "uarter compared to the trough "uarter. ;n average over the year, holidays abroad accounted for #0.+ ( of all holiday trips. 1t "uarterly level, the share eAceeded #- ( only in the third "uarter (see Figure 0c). Ceople tended to ta.e longer holidays during the third "uarter (see also Table 0), due most li.ely to periods of annual leave or school holidays. =iven the fiAed costs of transportation, it is unsurprising that the season during which trips were the longest is also the most popular season for going on trips abroad. 3oliday patterns in Europe differed widely in #$$%. 6n a number of countries, the number of trips during the pea. season was more than twice the number of trips in the trough "uarter, both for domestic and foreign trips. This was the case in =reece, 6taly, the /etherlands and Coland. 6n other countries, such as 6reland, Finland, ,weden and (to a lesser eAtent) =ermany, the seasonal bias was relatively small for both types of destination. 6n a group of countries, the seasonal pattern for domestic trips was low compared to other countries but there were strong seasonal fluctuations for trips abroad made by residents. This was especially so in ?omania, ,lovenia and ,lova.ia, but also in the :Dech ?epublic and 1ustria, the difference between the third and the first "uarter was twice as high for trips abroad than for domestic trips. The opposite happened in Estonia and :roatia, where the pattern of holidays abroad was relatively evenly spread across the year but fluctuated more for domestic holiday trips. The data do not show a lin. between the importance of tourism abroad and seasonality of this type of holiday. For nearly all countries where trips abroad accounted for 1$ ( or less of the total number of holiday trips made in #$$% (>ulgaria, =reece, ,pain, France, Cortugal and ?omania) the seasonal pattern of trips abroad did not differ much from the EU average. The only eAception was ?omania, where half of all holiday trips abroad were made during the third "uarter (the second highest figure in the EU, after ,lovenia).

.usiness trips
.usiness trips showed a less pronoun&ed seasonal pattern and tended to partly &ompensate for the peak and trou$h periods

1lthough reliable statistics on business trips bro.en down by "uarter are not available for all 5ember ,tates, Figures 2a and 2b give an illustration at aggregate level of the #+ 5ember ,tates of the European Union. >usiness trips were spread more evenly over the year than holiday trips, with a seasonal variation ranging from Eust over 20 million business trips in the third "uarter, or #0 ( of the annual total, to Eust under 29 million business trips in the second "uarter, or #4 ( of the annual total (EU*#+ data, eAcluding the /etherlands and 5alta). ;n average over the year, business trips represented around 1- ( of all trips made by EU residents. 1s shown in Figure 0b, this figure ranged from around #$ ( in the first and last "uarter of the year to 11 ( in the main holiday period, the third "uarter.

Evolution over time


(n the period !!4/ !!") the seasonality of demand for tourism *y EU residents fell sli$htly >ased on data available on #1 5ember ,tates for #$$2 and #$$%, this section ta.es a loo. at the trend in recent years of the seasonal bias in tourism demand for non*professional purpose. 1lthough the period spans only siA reference years, some patterns do emerge. 6n all four "uarters, both the number of holiday trips and the number of nights spent away increased in #$$% compared to the same "uarter in #$$2 (see Figures -a and 4a). 3owever, two important trends are noticeable. Firstly, the number of trips increased at a faster pace than the number of nights away, leading to a shorter average length of trip. This phenomenon is apparent all year round. ,econdly, the increases were significantly higher during the traditional low season compared to the pea. season. 6n the first and fourth "uarter, the number of trips increased by 1% ( and #1 ( between #$$2 and #$$%, while in the second and third "uarter the increase was 12 ( and 10 (. 1 broadly similar pattern was observed in the increase in nights spent away during the same "uarter in this period, with an increase of 12 (, 1$ (, 0 ( and + ( in the first, second, third and fourth "uarter. >etween #$$2 and #$$%, Europeans slightly changed their tourism behaviour and tended to ta.e additional holidays during the traditional low season rather than in the pea. season. =iven the reduction in the average length of trips, these additional trips tended to be shorter. The statistics on participation in tourism (not shown in the Figures) also indicated an increase between #$$2 and #$$% in the number of persons who went on holiday at least once in the first or the fourth "uarter, compared to the second or third "uarter. The relatively stronger demand for tourism during the low season (first and fourth "uarter) led to a reduction in seasonal variation, as shown in the "uarterly distribution of holiday trips and nights in Figures -b and 4b. The share of the first "uarter in the total number of holiday trips increased

by $.- percentage points between #$$2 and #$$% while the share of the third "uarter dropped by $.9 percentage points. The number of nights spent away increased by $.% percentage points in the first "uarter and fell by 1.+ percentage points in the third "uarter.

!ata sources and availability


!irective %-F-+FE: on the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism organises the European ,tatistical ,ystem of tourism statistics. This system consists of two main components statistics on capacity and occupancy of tourist accommodation and statistics on tourism demand. The former are collected in most 5ember ,tates via surveys filled in by accommodation establishments, while the latter are mostly collected by means of traveller surveys at the border or via traditional household surveys. ,tatistics on the occupancy of tourist accommodation refer to the number of arrivals (at accommodation establishments) and the number of nights spent by residents and non*residents, bro.en down by type of establishment or by region. >oth annual and monthly series are available. ,tatistics on the use of beds (occupancy rates) are also compiled. ,tatistics on the demand for tourism loo. at participation, i.e. the number of residents that ma.e at least one trip of at least four overnight stays during the reference period ("uarter, year). They also loo. at the number of tourism trips made (and the number of nights spent on those trips), bro.en down by tourism*related variables such as country of destination, month of departure, length of stay, type of organisation of the trip, mode of transport, type of accommodation or eApenditure, and by socio*demographic variables, such as age or gender. 1nnual and "uarterly series are available. This article is based on the data on tourism demand.

:onteAt
6n 7une #$1$, the European :ommission released a :ommunication entitledBEurope, the worldGs /o 1 tourist destination * a new political framewor. for tourism in EuropeB. ;ne of the challenges and opportunities facing the European tourism industry is the seasonal distribution of demand for tourism. >etter use of eAisting tourist infrastructure and staff in the low season could help businesses improve their productivity and benefit from a more stable and motivated wor.force. EAtending the tourism season or spreading tourism activities more evenly throughout the year can significantly boost thesustainability and competitiveness of European tourist destinations.

,ee also
,easonality in the tourist accommodation sector Tourism statistics Tourism statistics at regional level Tourism trends

Further Eurostat information


Pu*li&ations
?ecent Eurostat publications on tourism

%ain ta*les
Tourism (tHtour) 3otels and similar establishments (tin$$$0%) ;ther collective accommodation establishments (tin$$$2$) >ed places in hotels and similar establishments (tin$$$21) >ed places in other collective accommodation establishments (tin$$$2#) 1rrivals in hotels and similar establishments (tin$$$2+) 1rrivals in other collective accommodation establishments (tin$$$29) /ights spent in hotels and similar establishments (tin$$$20) /ights spent in other collective accommodation establishments (tin$$$22) Tourists (tin$$$2-) Trips (tin$$$24)

+ata*ase
Tourism (tour)

Tourism demand domestic and outbound tourism (eAcluding day*trips) (tourHdem) /umber of tourists (tourHdemHto) /umber of tourism trips (tourHdemHtt) /umber of tourism nights (tourHdemHtn) EApenditure on tourism trips (tourHdemHeA)

+edi&ated se&tion
Tourism statistics

Sour&e data for ta*les) fi$ures and maps on this pa$e 0%S E,&el1
!ownload EAcel file

%ethodolo$y 2 %etadata

Tourism demand domestic and outbound tourism (eAcluding day*trips)(E,5, metadata file * tourHdemHesms)

Tourism statistics in the European ,tatistical ,ystem * #$$9 data

Other information
8ith #$1# as reference year

?egulation 4%#F#$11 of 4 7uly #$11 concerning European statistics on tourism and repealing :ouncil !irective %-F-+FE:. ?egulation 1$-1F#$11 of #$ ;ctober #$11 implementing ?egulation 4%#F#$11 concerning European statistics on tourism, as regards the structure of the "uality reports and the transmission of the data. Crevious legal acts (concerning reference periods before #$1#)

!irective %-F-+FE: of #0 /ovember 1%%- on the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism. :ommission !ecision 1%%%F0-F:E of % !ecember 1%%9 on the procedures for implementing :ouncil !irective %-F-+FE: on the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism. :ommission !ecision #$$2F990F:E of 1$ !ecember #$$2 adEusting the 1nneA to :ouncil !irective %-F-+FE: on the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism as regards country lists. !irective #$$4F11$FE: of #$ /ovember #$$4 adapting !irectives %-F-+FE: and #$$1F1$%FE: in the field of statistics, by reason of the accession of >ulgaria and ?omania.

EAternal lin.s
1genda for a sustainable and competitive European tourism(:ommunicati on from the European

:ommission, ;ctober #$$+) European :ommission * Enterprise and 6ndustry * ,upporting European tourism :ategories ?esidentsG trips and destinations I ,tatistical article I Tourism