EU Tourism nights booked online recovered by 34 % in 2021


In 2021, guests spent around 364 million nights in short-term rental accommodation booked via Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group or Tripadvisor in the EU, representing an increase of around 34% compared with 2020. However, this number is still 29% below the 512 million nights recorded in 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic.

These data on short-stay accommodation offered via these platforms are the result of an agreement between the European Commission and the four private collaborative economy platforms reached in March 2020, showing that privately held data can successfully be used as a source of official, albeit experimental, statistics.

This news item presents a number of highlights from the more detailed Statistics Explained article.

The second wave of the pandemic in late 2020 had a severe impact on booking numbers in early 2021 (59.7% fewer nights spent in January 2021 than in January 2019).

In the summer of 2021, due to eased travelling restrictions, the number of nights spent in short-stay accommodation recovered significantly and was very close to pre-pandemic levels. In July and August, the two most popular months, 73.7 and 88.4 million nights were spent in short-stay accommodation, representing 85.9 % and 91.2 % of the record values for those same months in 2019.

Bookings remained high in the autumn and winter and were close to pre-pandemic levels until the end of the year.

This means that the growth of around 90 million guest nights from 2020 to 2021 can be attributed to the second half of the year.

Large cities and Mediterranean destinations struggled the most

When analysing the recovery of platform tourism at the regional and city level, it becomes clear that not all regions rebounded equally. Coastal regions along the Mediterranean Sea, capital city regions, as well as alpine winter destinations, were the furthest away from their 2019 levels. The regions with at least 1 million guest nights in 2019 that were the furthest away from their 2019 values were Prague (-81.9 %), Eastern and Midland in Ireland (-76.2 %), Budapest (-72.9 %), Vienna (-66.3 %) and Lazio in Italy (-64.8 %) all of them capital city regions. In addition, the coastal region of Catalonia in Spain, the third most popular region in 2019 with over 20 million guest nights remained far behind the number of nights booked in 2019 (-48.5 % to 10.7 million).

On the other hand, several regions in countries such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Poland and Romania managed to surpass their 2019 guest nights spent, while many others are close. The regions with the best performance since 2019, with at least 1 million guest nights in 2019, were all rural regions in France.

Looking at the most important city destinations, many of them still had less than 50 % of their 2019 guest nights in 2021, with Prague (18.1 %), Budapest (27.1 %) and Rome (30.5 %) struggling the most. The only cities which managed to attract more visitors in 2021 than in 2019 were smaller. Among those with at least 100000 guest nights in 2019, the best performing cities were Orléans (+55.3 %), Ostend (+49.6 %) and Lugano (+49.1 %).

For more information: 

Methodological notes: 

  • This list shows translations of the names of regions in the EU Member States into English.