European travel is making a somewhat nice comeback, although it is still down in a major way compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to an announcement made by the European Travel Commission (ETC).
According to the announcement, travel is still largely down by 49% since before worldwide universal border closures and a complete halt to international travel.
The announcement, which outlines an ETC report on travel so far in 2021, also highlights that the summer travel season is imperative for the European travel industry. In the first quarter of 2021, arrivals dropped 83% compared to the same period in 2021, and demand remains weak at best.
Weak demand from travelers is largely due to a lack of confidence that they will even be allowed to enter the EU or Schengen Area. In addition, the announcement points out that downside risks are still present, and a surge in new Covid-19 cases could cause borders to close once again.
However, the ETC is projecting a hopeful message to travel industry operators and travelers seeking a trip to Europe. The announcement highlights that vaccination efforts and coordinated policies, among other things, could dramatically help kickstart the travel industry once again.
“In view of the rapidly advancing vaccination programs, which reduce pressure on national health systems and protect our most vulnerable, Europe is now managing the COVID risks well both for locals and our long-awaited travelers. We therefore believe that safe travel is possible this summer. The reopening is also fueled by the strong desire of people to travel again and secured by the readiness of our sector to provide safe and responsible travel experiences. As Europe is opening up, it is imperative that clear and coherent messages are communicated to prospective travelers,” said ETC President Luis Araujo.
Further, intra-European travel is expected to boost travel demand in the second half of 2021. This would largely be due to the improving epidemiological situation and loosened travel restrictions. It is expected by the ETC that intra-European travel will account for 83% of arrivals in Europe in 2021.
Long-haul travel, however, is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025. In 2021, the US and Chinese markets are expected to account for most of the long-haul travel to and from Europe.
The ETC is an organization that collects and interprets data in order to advocate for the travel and tourism sector in Europe to governments and authorities worldwide.