Camping night
© Thomas Jutzler

Tourism is getting back on its feet: Firm travel plans give the sector hope

Tourism is coming off the back of a tough year. All around Europe, the numbers of bookings and overnight stays plummeted due to the coronavirus, and Luxembourg was no exception. But there seems to be a silver lining on the horizon: both online travel searches and concrete bookings are on the rise again.

2020 was a terrible year for tourism. In Luxembourg, the number of overnight stays fell by 50% for hotels, 47% for campsites, 12% for self-catering holiday lets, 64% for youth hostels and 23% for private intermediaries such as Airbnb and HomeAway. The drops in revenues were even starker: for hotels, this figure fell by 70% in 2020.

Online searches on the rise

But there is hope. According to current figures, people are once again looking online for more concrete travel plans, and some have even made firm bookings. According to studies, 20% of hotels in Luxembourg have seen an increase in bookings for late spring and summer 2021. “And that’s despite the ongoing restrictions,” says Alain Krier, Head of Research & Media Management at Luxembourg for Tourism. Searches relating to hotels and campsites have been growing again since mid-February. Overall, 40% of hotel operators are expecting tourism to recover by the end of 2021, while around half believe it will not occur until 2022.

The upward trend can be seen across Europe. “According to a study by the European Travel Commission (ETC), 54% of Europeans say that they want to go on a trip within the next six months. Trips abroad, and even long-haul ones, are being planned once more, while 42% of people are prioritising domestic travel,” Krier says. Covid related hesitations about flying are on the decrease.

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In demand: outdoors, safety and flexibility

Luxembourg as a travel destination is once again trending among Belgians and Dutch holidaymakers. “Luxembourg is also increasingly appealing to the French,” according to Krier. “There is currently a strong interest in nature and outdoor activities in Luxembourg, as well as experiences that take visitors off the beaten track.” Camping – and above all, holiday lets and motorhome trips – are a growing line of business thanks to their free and independent nature.

What factors play a role in choosing a travel destination? In addition to the usual aspects, such as tourists’ personal preferences, the “Covid criterion” of safety is key, especially health and hygiene. Easy cancellation options is also important.

Financial considerations and dream destinations on hold

Alain Krier is generally optimistic, at least for the mid-term future. “During lockdown, many households have saved money for leisure activities, while dream destinations have been piling up. The hope is for things to quickly resume once restrictions cease and the situation improves through vaccination and testing.” Thanks to its diverse landscapes and easy access, Luxembourg is an attractive European travel destination, in addition to being popular for spontaneous and short trips. But it remains unclear how things will turn out in the long term. “There could of course be an economic fallout and lower purchasing power. But whether that’s the case, and how it will impact on tourism, remains to be seen.”


Alain Krier

Head of Research & Media Management