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Who visited Lviv during the quarantine? COVID-19 vs tourism 2020

Anastasia Girzekorn

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2020 was particularly difficult for the tourism industry: international traffic fell by 74%. The falling of international tourism led to a loss of export earnings of $ 1.3 trillion according to the WTO.

The Lviv Tourist Office is constantly working on the implementation of efficient measures to restore tourist flows and to attract tourists to the city.

Every year Lviv Tourism Development Center collects and analyzes information from various sources to understand which tourist comes to Lviv and how long he stays in the city. Also, what is most importantly, operates with data on key markets.

And although the number of tourists has decreased, we can say with confidence that they still come to Lviv. We researched where people come from for tourism purposes.

Collecting quality analytics in 2020 turned out to be a remarkably difficult task, but quite real for our team. First, this is because we stopped conducting the annual surveys of tourists in the places of their greatest concentration (annually we analyzed about 2 thousand questionnaires from more than seven key points of tourist concentration places).

We have outlined the main sources of data that show us the overall picture of the guests of our city.

Tourist Information Center visitors

In 2020, 15,910 tourists visited tourist information centers, 51% of which were Ukrainians. Due to quarantine restrictions, the number of foreign visitors decreased by 85.6%, and Ukrainian visitors by 55.4%. The top 5 visitor countries included Poland, Belarus, Turkey, Germany, and Lithuania. Among the Ukrainian cities in the top five are Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro, and Ivano-Frankivsk.

Most often tourists asked for printed materials, information about transport, museums, events, general information about the city and its attractions, etc.

Tourist information centers are usually visited by individual tourists who plan their trips and explore the city. Besides, organized groups with guides ask for a map or guides for independent walks around the city in the future.

Data from the State Border Guard Service of Lviv Airport

According to the State Border Guard Service of Lviv Danylo Halytskyi International Airport, the number of foreign tourists at the airport in 2020 amounted to 84 thousand 176 people. Most passengers came from Poland, Turkey, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belarus, Romania, Lithuania, Italy, and Israel. 2020 began with a 16% increase in foreign passenger traffic compared to 2019. After releasing the first quarantine restrictions and opening borders in June, we can see a slight increase in the number of foreigners traveling, but then the ban on entry into the country for tourists from August 28 to September 28 caused a decline in passenger traffic, therefore in October-December, it remained lower than in August.

Tourist Barometer Data

Since 2012, Lviv Tourism Development Center collects and analyzes data on the total number of tourists, their geography, the occupancy of the number of rooms in accommodation facilities through a unified system of tourist barometer. In the system, managers and administrators of hotels regularly keep statistics of the specified tourist categories.

It is worth noting that the formula that gives the final figure was developed 9 years ago. At that time, it did not take into account the emergence of new accommodation establishments, which are becoming increasingly popular today. You can estimate their load only through administrative access to electronic booking systems (Airbnb, Booking, Expedia, etc.). The data we receive from the Tourist Barometer also allow us to understand the ranking of Lviv among European cities.

In recent years, our team, thanks to the results of the above-mentioned sociological research, has tried to balance the formula for calculating the total number of tourists to maintain a relevant reflection of the dynamics of growth/decline of tourist flow. It was clear that the error is getting bigger every year. With the advent of Big Data processing, in particular data from mobile operators, which more accurately depicts the nature of subscriber movements, we realized that the error is becoming more significant and the gap in the calculation method using a tourist barometer, essentially reduces its feasibility. It was decided to cover the barometer data, but to gradually move away from this instrument until the State Agency for Tourism Development of Ukraine launches a special satellite account as a single system for calculating not only the number of tourists but also the industry's economic contribution to gross domestic product. The DART has taken certain steps and initiatives in such an important area, which is also a part of the updated legal framework of Ukraine.

Consequently, taking into account the preceding information, as well as the structure of accommodation establishments according to studies of the previous period, in 2020 Lviv was visited by 750 thousand guests, which is 70% less than in 2019. The key markets were: Ukraine, Poland, Turkey, Germany, the USA, Belarus, Russia, Great Britain, Israel, and France.

Data of Kyivstar mobile operator

For the second year in a row, we are cooperating with the mobile operator Kyivstar* and analyzing the obtained data.

In 2019, information was processed only about Ukrainian tourists and in 2020 we have data on both Ukrainian and foreign tourists.

Ukrainian tourist

In 2020, 1.4 million Kyivstar ** subscribers visited Lviv.
Most tourists were from the Kyiv region, Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, and Rivne regions.
73.42% stayed in Lviv for 2-3 days, 19.41% stayed for 4-7 days and 7.16% stayed for 8-14 days.

Compared to 2019, we can see a decline in domestic tourism by only 8%. In Ukraine, a campaign to promote domestic tourism under the slogan #travelukraine is developing and gained a lot of attention within our country, where Lviv has once again demonstrated a strong position in the domestic market.

Foreign tourists

There were about 100,000 Kyivstar foreign subscribers in Lviv. The gradual decline from January to April was logically continued by a slight rise since May. The peak period was August, and perhaps if the borders had not been closed to foreigners, this figure would have been higher in September. The length of tourist's stay increased significantly within the beginning of the first quarantine measures due to border crossing restrictions and travel restrictions in general (from 4.4 to 7.8 days) and gradually decreased to 4.7 days on average by the end of the year.

  • Most tourists were from Poland, the USA, Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Belarus, Sweden, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic.
  • 70.07% of foreigners stayed in Lviv for 2-3 days, 22% for 4-7 days, and 7.93% stayed for 8-14 days.

Data from the State Fiscal Service

The city budget was replenished by UAH 168 million of direct taxes payment from the tourism industry *** (excluding tourist tax). In general, the tourism industry in Lviv paid 370 million UAH in taxes to the budgets of all levels, which is 20% less than in 2019.

The tourist tax brought to the city 4.9 million in 2020, which is 50% less than in 2019, we note that most of the year, from March to the end of December, by the decision of the Lviv City Council businesses were exempt from paying this tax.

Most taxes were paid on the activities of restaurants, theaters and concerts, hotel activities (a total of 24 quests according to the recommendations of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade from 2014).

The 99 thousand employees were engaged in the tourism industry of 31.12.2020. Compared to 2019, this figure fell by 21%. 

Hence, we see that even during the crisis, the tourism industry remains one of the most important branches in filling budgets (both local and state), and the number of employees shows that about 15% of Lviv's population is employed in tourism.

European countries emphasize tourism as the industry that needs to be most supported and revived and encouraged as soon as possible.

According to WTO forecasts, a return to "pre-quarantine" indicators in international travel should be expected no earlier than the third quarter of 2021. An important aspect in the resumption of tourist flows is the coordinated work between the governments of the countries, as well as campaigns aimed at restoring international connections.

We are grateful for the data provided to Lviv Danylo Halytskyi International Airport, the main department of the State Border Guard Service in the Lviv region and the Kyivstar mobile operator.

Information processed by Lviv Tourism Development Center.

  • * Kyivstar has the largest share of subscribers in the market of mobile operators - 47%.
  • ** Subscribers who were in Lviv from 1 to 14 days are included and subscribers who came to Lviv during the year from the Lviv region (2.1 million people) are not included.
  • *** For details on tax payment information, send an e-mail to lviv.tdc@lvivcity.gov.ua

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