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Online European tourism bookings so far in 2022 higher than pre-pandemic

FILE PHOTO: Tourists take a picture in front of the temple of the Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athens

(Reuters) - Short-term rental accommodation booked online in the European Union increased above 2019 levels each month from February 2022 onwards, the European Union's statistic office said on Tuesday.

Short-stays booked online via Airbnb, Booking.com, Tripadvisor, and Expedia in the EU's most popular destination countries recovered almost completely above pre-pandemic levels, the office said, with the highest increase recorded in February and May, up 10.9% and 5.6%, respectively, compared to 2019.

The tourism industry suffered a huge blow in 2020 as a result of lockdowns and travel restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

France had the most substantial increase — among the nine EU countries with more than 10 million nights spent in 2019 — with a growth of 31% from 2019 levels.

On the other hand, Italy and Austria's growth was more limited, yet within reach of their pre-pandemic levels, the statistics office said.

Compared to figures from the first half of 2021, short-term rental accommodation bookings totalled almost 200 million nights in 2022, up about 138%, according to Eurostat.

(Reporting by Dina Kartit, edited by Frank Jack Daniel)