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New research reveals this capital city is the most-booked destination in Europe

The National 2020-06-30 06:35:00

This time last year, as the summer holiday season was starting to fully kick in, flight bookings to London outnumbered those to other cities in Europe.

But new research into flight booking data from the first two weeks of June, conducted by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and ForwardKeys, shows how dramatically the travel landscape has changed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.


On Friday, Emirates announced seven new reopened routes, including Larnaca, Cyprus. Pictured is Ayia Napa, a 45-minute drive from Larnaca. Unsplash

On Friday, Emirates announced seven new reopened routes, including Athens, Greece. Evan Wise / Unsplash

On Friday, Emirates announced seven new reopened routes, including Osaka, Japan. Agathe Marty / Unsplash

On Friday, Emirates announced seven new reopened routes, including Sudanese capital Khartoum. Ashraf Shazly / AFP

On Friday, Emirates announced seven new reopened routes, including Rome, Italy. Unsplash / Matthew Schwartz

Amman, Jordan: Emirates will start flying to the destination again in July. Ahmad Qaisieh / Unsplash

On Friday, Emirates announced seven new reopened routes, including Tokyo, Japan. Unsplash / Jezael Melgoza

All Emirates passengers will receive hygiene kits at check-in. Courtesy Emirates

Emirates has added a cabin service assistant to flights with a journey time of more than 90 minutes. This crew member will ensure lavatories are cleaned at frequent intervals of  45 mins. Courtesy Emirates

Lisbon, which loitered at number nine in the list of the ten most-booked European cities in the first two weeks of June 2019, has surged to the top of the list in 2020, followed by Paris and Amsterdam. London is now at the bottom, behind Vienna and Barcelona.

This fall from grace is the result of the travel restrictions and quarantine rules imposed by the UK government. While Europe has begun to relax travel restrictions and bookings have begun to pick up, those for London have languished, says ForwardKeys, an expert in travel industry trends and business intelligence.


Demand for flights to and from Europe has begun to recover, thanks in part to a relaxation of travel restrictions

According to the research, new tickets issued for future international travel to the European Union (EU) dropped by 84.4 per cent in the first half of June compared to the same period in 2019, recovering from a 94.5 per cent overall decline in May. Meanwhile, bookings to the UK plunged by 96.7 per cent in the first half of June, almost unchanged from the 97.2 per cent collapse in May.

Lisbon, meanwhile, has soared to the top of the list of most-booked European cities during the first half of June. Portugal has been one of the first countries to establish enhanced hygiene and safety protocols to welcome tourists and has one of the top testing rates to control transmission.

"Travel restrictions and quarantines have continued to quash air travel and strangle demand for travel to and from London, causing it to fall to the bottom of the league for top ten most booked European cities, according to latest flight bookings. However, analysis by ForwardKeys clearly shows demand for flights to and from Europe has begun to recover, thanks in part to a relaxation of travel restrictions which has fuelled the recovery in the travel and tourism sector," says Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and chief executive.

“The implementation of global protocols as well as testing and contact tracing for intercontinental arrivals, as unveiled by WTTC’s Safe and Seamless Traveller Journey initiative, will restore consumer confidence and encourage travelling to resume,” she adds.

“We believe these measures will enable travellers to meet the huge pent up demand to travel once more and enjoy a much-need summer break while enabling the travel and tourism sector to re-open for business, restoring the livelihoods of millions of people dependent upon tourism.”