After nearly two years of profoundly negative reports, the European Travel Commission (ETC) is finally able to project some recovery to the European travel and tourism sector.
Recovery in the sector in 2022, however, is still projected to be a massive 20% below 2019 pre-pandemic levels. The projection is largely due to travel within Europe.
“Driven by strong domestic and intra-European travel, the overall travel demand is projected to be 20% below pre-pandemic levels in 2022,” the report reads.
Although 2022’s projections are still 20% lower than 2019’s real numbers, 2021’s real decline in the sector (-62% compared to 2019) shows a 42% gain in 2022 compared to 2021.
In addition, intra-European travel is expected to exceed pre-pandemic levels, whereas travel to Europe from third countries is not expected to recover until 2024.
“Whereas domestic travel is expected to exceed pre-pandemic peaks in 2022, international travel will be slower on the uptake and is not likely to fully recover until 2024,” the report reads.
Another positive development featured in the report is the resumption of travel between Europe and the United States, which started in November 2021. The ETC is expecting this development to be a major factor in the travel and tourism sector’s recovery in 2022 and to even exceed other long-haul travel markets.
“An extremely positive development in Q4 2021 was the resumption of travel between Europe and the United States, which took place in November 2021, and will likely help drive European tourism recovery in 2022. ETC expects that the share of European travel from the US will return to pre-pandemic levels relatively quickly, and ahead of demand from other long-haul markets,” the report reads.
The Omnicron variant of Covid-19 brought much uncertainty and many unreasonable, kneejerk reactions from European governments that did not work for prior variants, to include new travel bans and lockdowns. As a result, there were further fears that the livelihoods of the millions of Europeans who work in the travel and hospitality industries would be further damaged.
However, as governments realized that Omnicron was not as big of a threat as they thought and some have begun to resume travel and tourism activities in spite of the EU’s broader message, a partial recovery to the travel and tourism industry can be expected in 2022.
“From our report, it is clear to see the stifling impact of uncertainty brought about by Omicron. ETC is optimistic that the European travel sector will overcome Omicron and the many other challenges present in 2022. However, the sector’s resilience is contingent on the EU being proactive in the development of endemic strategies that will allow for the loosening of travel restrictions for intra-European and international travel alike. As we learn to live with COVID-19, governments across Europe have to strike the right balance between managing health risks and facilitating mobility,” said President of the ETC, Luis Araujo.
The ETC is an organization that advocates to European governments on behalf of the individuals and businesses in the travel and tourism industry.