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ETC Sees Full Comeback for Domestic Travel in Europe this Year

Domestic travel is expected to recover fully in 2022 as the Covid-19 pandemic gradually subsides but international tourist arrivals to Europe are still expected to be down by 30 percent over pre-crisis 2019 levels, found the European Travel Commission (ETC) in its quarterly report released this week.

According to the latest “European Tourism Trends & Prospects” report, tourism in Europe is showing signs of resilience despite multiple market shocks. 

In view of the pandemic developments and the Russia-Ukraine war and consequences, the ETC expects European tourism to continue its road to recovery in 2022, but at a slower pace than previously anticipated.

Leading the way, Western Europe appears to be the best performing region globally this year, but still down by 24 percent over 2019 levels.

Tourism to Eastern Europe, on the other hand, impacted by the Russia-Ukraine war, is expected to recover in 2025 with arrivals now forecast to be 43 percent lower in 2022 compared to 2019.

Overall, analysts are forecasting that international travel will exceed 2019 levels in 2025 also.

Photo © European Union - Source: EP

Photo © European Union – Source: EP

“Over the course of the pandemic, the European tourism sector has become adept at dealing with uncertainties and challenges. The sector is steadily recovering from Covid-19 and there is cause for optimism. Nevertheless, European tourism will have to maintain this fortitude throughout the year as Europe continues to deal with the significant fallout from the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian conflict,” said ETC President Luís Araújo.

According to the ETC, the war will result in reduced outbound travel from both source markets affecting in the short term neighboring countries and those most reliant on Russia and Ukraine as source markets. Among these: Cyprus, Montenegro, Latvia, Finland, Estonia and Lithuania, where Russians made up at least 10 percent of total inbound travel in 2019. 

ETC analysts add that beyond visitor numbers, there will be an even larger impact on tourism receipts in these destinations as Russian tourists tend to be high spenders. Indicatively, in pre-Covid 2019, Russian spending contributed to 34 percent of total expenditure in Montenegro, 25 percent in Cyprus, and 16 percent in Latvia. 

Overall, no immediate recovery is expected for countries with a high reliance on Russian tourism in the near term.

The report goes on to add that the war has also created other problems for the travel industry, including the inflationary effects of economic sanctions on Russia which are expected to exacerbate rising fuel prices and may lead to airfare price hikes this year.

Lastly, the war could also affect travel sentiment to Europe from overseas markets, the ETC said.

Established in 1948, the ETC represents the national tourism organizations of Europe, and aims to strengthen the sustainable development of Europe as a tourist destination and to promote Europe in third markets. 

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