Helsinki is the top trending European Union (EU) visitors for long-haul visitors this Christmas, according to new research by ForwardKeys, a travel analytics firm that analyzes 17 million flight bookings and 7 million flight searches per day. The city has seen 29.6 percent growth in flight bookings over the period ranging from December 15, 2019, through January 15, 2020, followed by Budapest, up 29.3 percent; Bucharest, up 28.4 percent; Lisbon, up 27.2 percent; Porto, up 26.5 percent; Athens, up 22 percent; Copenhagen, up 18.5 percent; Madrid, up 18.3 percent; Prague, up 16.5 percent; and Amsterdam, up 14.4 percent.
Christmas bookings to EU countries from outside the Union are 11.0 percent ahead of where they were at the equivalent point last year, ForwardKeys said. However, not every destination is ahead; bookings to two of Europe’s most picturesque cities on the water, Stockholm and Venice, are behind by 23.1 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. Stockholm is suffering since SAS stopped direct flights to and from Hong Kong last November and Venice has experienced a stalling in bookings from South Korea, the U.S., Russia and China. With the recent floods, a further slowdown is likely, according to the report.
Helsinki’s growth is mainly attributable to great growth in festive forward bookings from China and Japan, driven by a substantial increase in capacity, ForwardKeys said. Budapest’s strong booking position is due to notable capacity growth on routes from New York and Tel Aviv. Bucharest’s boom is due to notable capacity growth over the last two years. Lisbon is benefitting from a new route, operated by Asiana, from South Korea, and Porto is profiting from an increase in flight capacity from Sao Paulo.
The EU’s largest city destinations by market share are currently all showing very healthy bookings for the Christmas period, ForwardKeys said. The number one destination is London, with a 16.2 percent share and bookings 10.2 percent ahead of where they were at the equivalent point last year. It is followed by Paris, which has a 13.6 percent share and bookings 12.9 percent ahead. The next most visited cities will be, in order, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Milan and Munich.
Looking at the most important origin markets for the EU, there is extremely healthy, above inflation, growth from six of the top seven, ForwardKeys said. Forward bookings for the Christmas period from the United States are 7 percent ahead; from South Korea, 15.1 percent ahead; from Brazil, 29.3 percent ahead; from Russia, 1.6 percent ahead; from Japan, 15.8 percent ahead; from China, 19.5 percent ahead; and from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, 3.6 percent ahead.