What Does the Tourism Demand Survey Tell About Long Distance Travel

What Does the Tourism Demand Survey Tell About Long Distance Travel


Linda Christensen, DTU Transport, Otto Anker Nielsen, DTU Transport


Development in holiday travel activity is compared for 28 European countries and 4 country groups seem to appear, a southern European group, a former Eastern Euroropean group, a Central and Western European group and a Nordic Group


An important part of Eurostat’s Guidelines for data collection for passenger mobility by National Travel Surveys (NTS) is collection of survey data about medium (300-1,000 km) and long distance travel (1000 km). However, only few countries are collecting long distance travel as part of the NTS. It is therefore worth considering if other solutions are available.

The European countries already collect survey data on trips with overnight stay(s) out of local spatial areas by the Tourism Demand Survey. This survey is collected continually by all EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland, i.e. actually 28 countries. The countries deliver every year tables to Eurostat with some indicators of the travel activities. The first countries delivered in 1995 and most of the rest from 2002-03. Micro data is not available from Eurostat. For the period 1995-2011 only data for holiday trips with at least 4 nights overnight stays are available. The number of trips is registered divided into domestic and international travel and on main modes. From 2012 tables with short duration holidays and with business travel is included too. Destination country is available too from 2012. The weakness of Tourism Demand Surveys related to the National Travel Survey indicators is that destinations are only mentioned as countries, and distance is not included.

The paper will have two focus points
• Analysis of the development in international holiday trips with 4+ nights from 2003 to 2012 dependent on GDP, country size, domestic travel and some characteristic country groups
• Analysis of departure - destination countries in 2012-13 for different groups of countries identified in the analysis above and for both short and long duration holidays

Preliminary analyses show a clear increase in number of international holiday trips with increasing income. This also results in a cut back in travel activity during the crisis in 2008-09 but most countries have an increasing activity again from 2010. The income elasticity is however not at the same level for all countries and it seems to decrease over time and with increasing income. The cross sectional elasticity found in 2002 seems higher than a cross sectional elasticity found in 2011. The 4 characteristic groups seem to be:
1. The South European countries with a very low travel activity and low income elasticity. These are also the typical destination countries for holiday travel of the Western and Nordic countries
2. The former Eastern European countries which have the highest travel activity compared to the income level. Despite of a low income level several countries have a higher travel activity than the Middle European countries
3. The Central and Western European countries which have a higher travel level compared to the income. The income elasticity is lower in 2011 than in the first years. Germany and UK are exceptions with a decreasing travel activity over the years
4. The Nordic countries which have a lower travel activity than the countries in group 3 and with an even more decreasing income elasticity. A reason for the lower level might be a higher level of holiday home ownership than in group 3.
Another tendency is a higher holiday travel activity in countries with many foreign workers (Luxembourg, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus).


Association for European Transport