Let’s Hear It For The Little Guys

What do Croatia, Iceland, Malta, Montenegro, Norway and Portugal all have in common? Answer. They’re all punching above their weight for attracting tourists, according to a recent article in ‘The Independent’.

Veteran travel journalist Simon Calder (the BBC’s go-to journalist whenever a crisis occurs in the travel industry) analysed some sales data supplied to him by Airbnb. Ahead of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, the peer-to-peer accommodation service provider published a table of bookings made for each of the 43 competing countries by people in the other 42 nations.

Simon discounted larger countries such as France or Spain on the grounds that they already had large populations. He was more interested in looking at the smaller countries, ie, those with smaller populations that were attracting a disproportionately large number of guest arrivals to their countries relative to their own populations.

On this basis, Portugal does particularly well, attracting a comparable number of tourists with much larger countries, such as the UK, Italy or even Germany, despite only having a population of 10 million people. Croatia does a good job too, despite its national population being less than half the size of Portugal’s (4 million).

Iceland (0.3 million) and Malta (0.4 million) are managing to go head to head with Sweden, despite its much larger population of 10 million.

Wherever there are winners there has to be losers too, so spare a thought for the Ukrainian tourist board who, despite having a population of 43 million, can only attract the same number of tourists as those in tiny Montenegro (pop 600,000), so seventy one times bigger. Clearly, Russia’s annexation of its prime tourist location, the Crimea, doesn’t exactly help their cause.

The survey can, of course, be criticised at several levels, not the least that Airbnb’s penetration in Europe can at best be described as patchy. And trying to rush out sales data based around the Eurovision Song Contest smacks of being, well, desperate anyway.


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