European tourism will continue to recover throughout 2022 but at a slower pace than previously hoped, according to the latest forecast.
Domestic travel is expected to recover fully this year, while international not expected to exceed 2019 levels until 2025, according to the latest quarterly report from the European Travel Commission.
International tourist arrivals to Europe are forecast to be 30% below pre-pandemic 2019 volumes this year, supported by domestic and short-haul travel.
Arrivals for the first quarter of the year are estimated to be 43% lower on 2019 – an improvement over the 60% decline seen in the previous quarter.
The fastest rebounds based on data to February were reported by Serbia (-11%) and Turkey (-12%).
Other destinations recovering at a faster pace based on data to February-March 2022 are Bulgaria (-18%), Austria (-33%), Spain and Monaco (both -34%), and Croatia (-37%).
The report shows that Covid-19 is “ebbing” as the primary factor influencing consumer travel plans.
Helped by the Covid-19 vaccines and boosters, as well as destinations’ health protocols and certifications, international travellers are now less hesitant about visiting Europe.
Western Europe is forecast to be the best performing region globally this year, albeit 24% below 2019 levels.
The US remains among the best performers of all long-haul source markets.
ETC president Luis Araujo said: “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 Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“ETC calls on EU institutions to continue to provide sufficient and timely financial aid and other support to the sector, especially to destinations heavily reliant on tourism from Russia and Ukraine.”