Travel within Europe is not expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels until 2024, according to the latest projection by the European Travel Commission (ETC).
The Commission, which represents the national tourism organisations of European countries, has been monitoring the ongoing situation with Europe’s tourist volumes in the wake of the pandemic.
It warned that “despite a strong summer rebound, international tourist arrivals to Europe are forecast to be 60 per cent below 2019 [levels] by the end of 2021”.
The forecast comes off the back of the organisation’s latest quarterly report, European Tourism Trends & Prospects, published this month.
The report found that European tourist arrivals were still down 77 per cent half-way through this year, relative to 2019.
This is despite Europe having one of the most successful vaccine rollouts of any continent.
However, it did indicate slow but steady growth in air passenger volume within Europe during summer 2021 – with passenger levels in June being 69 per cent lower than 2019 levels, July 57 per cent and August 49 per cent.
One major drop was in long-haul arrivals – travellers from the US to Europe remained 90 per cent below 2019 levels for one third of the countries that contributed to the report.
It is thought that costly testing requirements and different travel rules from country to country, as well as concerns around catching or transmitting the virus, are behind the slow recovery of this part of the tourism sector.
“From our latest ‘European Tourism Trends & Prospects’ quarterly report, it is clear to see the critical role vaccination programmes have already played in helping travel rebound,” said ETC President Luís Araújo.
“The Covid-19 vaccine rollout was vital to the easing of entry requirements and boosting the appeal of travel during the summer season. However, vaccination efforts won’t be enough.
“As the winter months approach, it is imperative that Europe strives to further restore the freedom of movement by implementing more holistic and coherent approaches for travel within and outside the EU.”