Travel in Europe is expected to post a strong recovery in the coming months, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which predicts a 250 percent increase in European bookings for Easter compared to 2021.
Citing ForwardKeys data and feedback collected at the FITUR tourism fair in Madrid this month, and as countries across the continent continue to relax travel restrictions, the WTTC expects the sector to recover faster and move closer to pre-pandemic 2019 levels towards the summer.
At the same time, the WTTC joins global tourism and travel associations in a call for the removal all restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers.
According to the WTTC, bookings for intra-European travel over the Easter period have increased by more than 250 percent, while summer bookings are currently 80 percent above 2021 levels.
“Latest booking data shows Europeans are positive about traveling again. Bookings for Easter and summer are looking strong. Omicron has affected the start of the year, but as infections peak and the symptoms remain mild people are booking again,” said WTTC President & CEO Julia Simpson.
However, intra-European travel during Easter and summer in 2022 is expected to still perform below pre-pandemic levels by 38 percent and 45 percent, respectively.
“The problems occur when governments react with travel restrictions. The World Health Organization says that closing borders is pointless when Omicron is already prevalent in society. All it does is damage the economy and livelihoods,” said Simpson.
“According to latest scientific evidence, although more transmissible, Omicron is less severe and leads to less hospitalizations and deaths. Therefore, we are calling on governments to reduce all travel restrictions and allow fully vaccinated travelers to move freely,” she added.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged governments to lift or ease restrictions on travel and called for a harmonized approach to travel acknowledging that measures aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 had not worked.
Meanwhile, in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022, intra-European travel recorded a 275 percent increase in bookings. According to the latest WTTC data, international arrivals to destinations in Europe are expected to rise by more than 280 percent compared to the same period in 2021.
In terms of popular destinations, Spain leads the way, with intra-European arrivals in Q1 2022 currently up by 320 percent (year-on-year), followed by Turkey.
WTTC analysts note that Europe’s tourism sector should expect an increased demand for travel with a significant boost in bookings in the coming months as travel restrictions continue to ease and consumer confidence improves.
In pre-pandemic 2019, the global travel and tourism sector contributed nearly 9.2 trillion dollars to the economy and accounted for 10.6 percent of all jobs (334 million).
In 2020, after the onset of Covid, 62 million jobs were lost, and the sector’s contribution to the global GDP dropped by 4.5 trillion dollars.