Although the demand for European travel has increased recently due to higher vaccination rates, volumes are still far off compared to the pre-pandemic period and are not expected to reach the latter until 2024.
These conclusions were reached by the European Travel Commission (ETC) Quarterly Report on European and Tourism Trends and Outlook, which analyzes the impact of the current COVID-19 situation on the travel and tourism sector, TheSchengen.com reports.
According to the report, despite the marked increase in the number of international tourists in European countries during the peak summer season, the number of international tourist arrivals to this continent is expected to be 60 percent lower than the 2019 figures by the end of this year.
In addition, the report found that European tourist arrivals remain down 77 percent halfway, compared to 2019 figures.
“From our recent quarterly report ‘European Tourism Trends and Prospects’, it is clear to see the critical role vaccination programs have already played in aiding the recovery of travel. The launch of the COVID-19 vaccine has been vital to ease entry requirements and enhance the attractiveness of travel during the summer season. However, Vaccination efforts will not be enough, ETC President Luis Araujo noted in this regard.
Araujo also stressed that as the winter months approach, it is very important that Europe continues to restore freedom of movement by imposing a more coherent approach to travel within and outside the EU.
Recently, ETC revealed that more Europeans are planning to travel over the next six months. The report emphasized that two-thirds of European citizens intend to travel during the autumn and winter seasons, which indicates a positive trend for tourism in the European Union.
High vaccination rates against the virus in European countries have allowed citizens to enjoy an even stronger summer season than expected. In addition, according to ETC, the launch of the EU’s COVID-19 digital certificate has also helped ease the travel process and allow fully vaccinated citizens to travel more freely to other countries.
According to ETC, as a result, travel within the region has seen an increase, accounting for 85 percent of European international arrivals this year, up from 77 percent recorded in 2019.
The report highlighted that Greece delivered the strongest recovery overnight, despite weak international arrivals. The largest increase in arrivals over 2019 rates was observed in Croatia, which received 1.9 million tourists arriving in September.
On the other hand, the Czech Republic recorded the largest drop, mainly due to the strict entry rules imposed to stop the spread of the virus.
Although European travel has made positive progress this year, ETC emphasized that there is still a long way to go as international tourist arrivals to Europe are still down 77 percent in the middle of the year.