Budapest registered the second-highest growth among EU member states for flight bookings by long-haul travelers for the winter holiday season, according to research by travel analytics firm ForwardKeys.
Only Helsinki is ahead of the Hungarian capital. The Finnish city registered a growth of 29.6% in terms of flight bookings for the period between December 15 - January 15, only marginally ahead of Budapestʼs rate of 29.3%.
Other countries receiving a strong Christmas season boost are Bucharest (28.4%), Lisbon (27.2%), Porto (26.5%), Athens (22%), Copenhagen (18.5%), Madrid (18.3%), Prague (16.5%), and Amsterdam (14.4%).
ForwardKeys says Helsinki’s growth is mainly attributable to great growth in festive forward bookings from China and Japan, driven by a substantial increase in capacity, while Budapest’s strong booking position is due to capacity growth on routes from New York and Tel Aviv.
On average (as of November 12), Christmas bookings to member states from outside the EU are 11% ahead of where they were at the equivalent point last year.
However, not every destination is ahead; bookings to Stockholm and Venice are behind, 23.1% and 6.5% respectively, the research says. The main reason behind Stockholmʼs weaker numbers could be that airline SAS stopped direct flights to and from Hong Kong last November.
Venice has experienced a slowdown in bookings from countries such as South Korea, the United States, Russia, and China. Due to recent floods, the situation is likely to worsen in the near future.
“One has to feel great sympathy for the people of Venice," says Jérôme Goldberg, global retail & travel retail director, ForwardKeys. "It is a city that relies on tourism and images of St Mark’s Square under water are bound to deter visitors.”