Europe tipped to recover 70% of pre-Covid travel demand in 2022, says ETC

By Luke Barras-hill |

Rolled back restrictions and pent-up passenger demand is fuelling Europe’s travel and tourism rebound but worsening inflation, war and rising Covid transmissions cloud the outlook, according to the region’s tourism sector.  

In its latest ‘European Tourism Trends & Prospects’ quarterly report produced by Tourism Economics, the European Travel Commission (ETC) predicts that the region will restore 70% of pre-pandemic travel demand in 2022.

But a surge in the appetite for travel coupled with staff shortages ‘pose serious challenges’ for the industry as it enters the peak summer months.

‘Ongoing lag in labour supply’

Luís Araújo, President, ETC said: “We are witnessing a much faster rebound than travel businesses in Europe had been expecting, and staff shortages may prove to be an obstacle to a complete recovery. Bringing back talent, and making careers in the sector more enticing, is the top priority for European tourism recovery in the months to come.

“It is also crucial that the EU continues to monitor the impact of inflation on the cost of living – Europe must do everything within its power to ensure that travel does not become inaccessible for the average European.”

Short- and medium-haul travel is expected to continue driving the recovery in Europe, but arrivals from long-haul markets are still lagging behind, especially in Asia, while the bounceback in the US has been ‘slower than expected’.

The ETC adds that the ‘ongoing lag in labour supply’, due to (among other reasons) long lead times on security clearances and the perceived employment instability of the sector is resulting in staff shortages across European travel and tourism.

As a result, the non-profit organisation says many European destinations may struggle to meet rising demand.

It continues that around 190,000 European aviation workers lost their jobs during the pandemic and despite airlines and airports reacting with recruitment campaigns, it is unlikely the industry would be able to respond within this peak summer season.

Over the first weekend of June, the Netherlands witnessed cancellation rates of up to 11% and the UK up to 4%.

In response, airports are cutting the volume of flights into the summer months [and in some cases such as Amsterdam Schiphol, limiting the volume of departing passengers – Ed]  against a backdrop of several air carriers announcing strikes and cancelling itineraries over labour shortages.

To date this year, Bulgaria (-8%), Serbia (-10%) and Turkey (-14%) recorded the strongest rebounds in tourist arrivals.

On the other hand, Latvia’s proximity to Russia is slowing the former’s tourism recovery (-63%) following mass hotel booking cancellations. Slovakia and the Czech Republic are also among the Eastern European destinations exceeding the 50% decline.

All images courtesy of ETC’s ‘European Tourism Trends & Prospects’ quarterly report. To access the report in full, click here.

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