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New Travel Motivations in Europe: Trending Destinations in 2024

We have presented the latest update of our travel motivation analysis, focusing specifically on the evolution of trends in motivations to visit Europe.

The study is based on active listening methodology on social media to identify trends in tourist interests. Covering the period between January and October of this year, compared to the four previous years, a total of over 380 million tourist mentions have been analysed. This technique analyses spontaneous conversations related to travel on social media (Big Data) through Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing, interpreting what motivates travellers to visit a place. Additionally, to identify destinations that will potentially be trending in the coming months, we have used transactional data on future air connectivity.

Are travel motivations changing globally?

As a starting point for the analysis, a global trend toward more experiential and less conventional travel motivations has been identified since 2019. Specifically, experiential travel has increased by 8 percentage points globally since 2019. Experiential tourism includes activities related to active, natural, gastronomic, and wellness tourism. Meanwhile, more conventional tourism is framed by activities related to culture, sun and beach, family activities, nightlife, and shopping.

Do these preference changes affect Europe in the same way?

The answer is yes, and with equivalent intensity. Motivations to visit Europe between 2019 and 2023 show an 8 percentage point growth in experiential activities, diminishing the prominence of conventional ones.

When we analyse specific tourism products, we see certain differences from global trends, but the interest in active and natural tourism is the fastest growing, with 5 and 3 percentage points, respectively, since 2019. On the contrary, motivations that slightly lose prominence are cultural tourism (-3 p.%) and sun and beach tourism (-2p%). It is worth noting, however, that cultural tourism remains the main travel motivation with 27% of travellers’ interest.

Which European countries are better positioned to take advantage of this trend?

If we analyse the relative importance of experiential vs conventional activities among European countries, it is clear that countries in Northern Europe are better positioned to take advantage of the new demand trends. Thus, countries like Iceland, Norway, Finland, Slovenia, or Switzerland show a share of over 60% in interest in experiential activities by their visitors. All these countries have significant natural landscape resources that allow them to dominate the offer of this tourism, as well as active tourism.

Which destinations could be trending in 2024 according to these factors?

Although we have identified the top 10 countries with the best distribution of experiential tourism offerings, which strategically positions them very well, when identifying destinations that may be trending in the short term, more factors must be considered.

Therefore, Mabrian has cross-analysed three factors to identify which European regions have the necessary factors to be trending in 2024:

  1. Which destinations have a higher share of demand for experiential activities? They are well positioned in growing demand segments.
  2. Which of these destinations retain an interest share in cultural products of at least 20%? They are well positioned in what is still the main travel motivation in Europe.
  3. Which of these destinations show good international accessibility? They are well positioned in terms of air connectivity in the next 6 months.

The results are interesting. By countries, Italy has the most potential destinations, with four, followed by France and Germany with two destinations each. The top 10 trending regions for 2024 are rounded out by the United Kingdom and Portugal with one destination each.

For destinations, the good positioning of the Piedmont region in Italy stands out, which includes destinations such as Turin, Stresa, or Alba, where, in addition to highlighting its cultural and natural offerings, its gastronomic offerings stand out, included among experiential motivations. It also shows a positive evolution in terms of accessibility.

In second place is New Aquitaine, in France, which includes destinations such as Bordeaux, Biarritz, or Limoges, with an offer of oenological and gastronomic products and active tourism, which makes it stand out. Also, with good and stable air connectivity.

To close the top 3 trending destinations, we highlight the East of England, with destinations such as Cambridge, Essex, or Norfolk. This region offers a balance between cultural and natural offerings that projects it as a growing destination. Its connectivity is also good and stable.

To close the top 10 trending destinations, we highlight: Occitanie (France), Campania (Italy), North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), Lombardy (Italy), Emilia-Romagna (Italy), the province of Hamburg (Germany), and the province of Lisbon (Portugal).

For more information about this study and its methodology, contact us.

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