In the wake of the pandemic, the travel industry was hit hard, leaving popular tourist destinations in Europe and around the world eerily quiet and deserted. But as restrictions lifted and vaccination efforts progressed, a phenomenon known as “revenge travel” began to take center stage, sparking a surge in tourism. This trend has been particularly prominent in Europe, where tourists return to iconic cities and scenic destinations, eager to compensate for lost time. If you’re ready to take your first trip in a few years, check out the best credit cards for international travel to save money and get valuable perks like extra insurance.

The Resurgence of European Tourism

After a long hiatus due to the pandemic, tourists are packing major attractions across Europe again. Waiting times to visit famous sites have stretched to over two hours at the Acropolis in Athens, and taxi lines at Rome’s central train station are no shorter. In Venice, the concentration of visitors around St. Mark’s Square has led to traffic jams on bridges, even on weekdays. The summer of 2023 is witnessing a remarkable rebound in tourism, with several European destinations projected to surpass their 2019 records. This resurgence isn’t solely driven by European travelers, as Americans are leading the charge this time.

The Rise of “Revenge Tourism”

This summer’s resurgence of tourism in Europe is attributed mainly to Americans seeking “revenge tourism.” Eager to explore again after being confined for years, these travelers are undeterred by higher airfares and hotel costs. Their motivation stems from the desire to make up for lost time and create meaningful memories. Even though prices have surged, many are willing to splurge, viewing this as a special opportunity to rejuvenate their spirits. This phenomenon is exemplified by stories like Lauren Gonzalez, a 25-year-old who landed in Rome with friends for a 16-day adventure through Italy. They’ve saved up for this trip and are determined to make the most of it, undaunted by the crowds.

Challenges of the Tourism Resurgence

While the return of tourists is a boon for hotels and restaurants that suffered during the pandemic, it has also brought challenges. Calls for more sustainable tourism have largely gone unanswered as the primary focus remains on revenue generation. The surge in visitors has led to over tourism in certain areas, causing congestion, inconvenience, and potential environmental impacts. The mayor of Florence, for instance, has taken steps to curb short-term apartment rentals to protect the city’s UNESCO heritage site status.

Balancing Act for the Future

Despite the rush of tourists, travel to and within Europe is still down 10% from 2019, partly due to ongoing conflicts and reduced visitors from China and other Asia-Pacific countries. In Spain, a historic summer for tourism is being celebrated, yet there are concerns about rising prices for flights and accommodations. The growing appetite for long-haul travel from the United States is seen as a result of the revenge travel trend, propelling major European cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice above pre-pandemic arrival levels.

Bottom line

Revenge travel is still happening in 2023, bringing opportunities and challenges to Europe’s popular destinations. The eagerness of travelers, especially Americans, to explore iconic cities and picturesque landscapes is driving a significant resurgence in the tourism industry. However, this resurgence is putting a strain on some locations and prompting concerns about sustainability. While revenge travel fulfills the yearning for adventure and exploration, it also highlights the need for a delicate balance between tourism and environmental preservation. As the world navigates this new era of travel, finding solutions to ensure that tourism is enriching and sustainable will be key to the industry’s future success.

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