Tourism across EU member states has suffered a 77 percent drop compared to pre-pandemic levels, and those who rely on long-distance markets or islands have been hardest hit.
According to data from the European Travel Council (ETC), international tourist arrivals to Europe are expected to drop by 60 percent by the end of the year. Moreover, although travel demand to the European Union has recovered slightly, it is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024, TheSchengen.com reports.
Being the first country to open its borders to vaccinated travelers, Greece has seen the highest number of overnight stays; Only 19 percent less than in 2019, but foreign arrivals have been relatively low.
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The countries in the European Union with the highest access rates were recorded in the South-Eastern Europe region. Croatia welcomed 1.9 million tourists in September – 37 percent less than pre-pandemic levels.
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Other countries that saw a rebound in arrivals included Montenegro, with a 44 percent drop compared to 2019, Luxembourg (-45 percent) and Monaco (-46 percent). On the other hand, the Czech Republic recorded the lowest decline in the European Union, about -94 percent lower than in the pre-pandemic period, with strict COVID-19 measures extended throughout the year.
Moreover, European air traffic experienced a boom during the summer season, with an average decrease of 58 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels, even though revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) made up half of the 2019 benchmarks.
The improvement in tourism observed in the summer months occurred thanks to the demand for domestic air travel and the creation of the EU’s COVID digital certificate. Compared to 2020 activity levels, occupancy rates in Europe were the lowest in the world, at just 10.5 per cent. On the other hand, Average Daily Rates (ADR) increased by 6.5 percent, contributing to a 17.7 percent increase in revenue per available room.
Moreover, Eduardo Santander, Director of ETC, indicated that international travel may once again be possible.
“This summer season in Europe has proven to be good. Therefore, EU countries should move towards a traveler-risk-based approach rather than the current user’s country-to-country approach. International travel must be fully reopened with the same conditions as within the EU: based on vaccination or cure or test negative for COVID-19,” Santander said.
American travelers have played a major role in tourism, as they have been allowed into many EU member states, despite the US banning EU arrivals. However, arrivals from the US to Europe are still 90 percent below their 2019 levels for a third of destinations. Americans mostly visited tourist sites in the southern Mediterranean, with Greece recording the fastest recovery for American arrivals, just 38 percent lower than in 2019.
The absence of Chinese tourists was felt by EU member states, with all destinations reporting declines of more than 90 percent compared to 2019.