A surge in domestic travel has provided “some relief” but is not enough to achieve the full recovery needed to salvage Europe’s economy and millions of jobs.
The warning came from the Word Travel & Tourism Council as research projected that while domestic spending is set to rise 30.2% year-on-year in 2021, international spend is expected to see a smaller increase of just 19.3%, reaching €242 billion against pre-pandemic levels of €560 billion in 2019.
However, international spending is expected to rebound 77.2% year-on-year in 2022 with relaxed restrictions in many European countries and with millions more people fully vaccinated.
Domestic travel spending is set to rise 27.7% next year.
The European travel and tourism sector supported more than 38 million jobs in 2019.
After suffering a loss of 3.6 million jobs last year when the pandemic brought international travel to an almost complete standstill, employment growth is set to remain stagnant this year.
But the WTTC research reveals an expected 15.7% rise in jobs in 2022, increasing by 5.5 million jobs to reach pre-pandemic levels.
WTTC president and chief executive Julia Simpson said: “Our research shows that while the European travel and tourism sector is slowly beginning to recover, there is still a long way to go.
“With many European countries’ borders now open to international travel for fully vaccinated travellers, the region’s economic recovery will be accelerated next year.”
“This could restore millions of jobs and livelihoods which rely on a thriving travel and tourism sector. We need governments to replace the patchwork of restrictions with a set of harmonised rules for travel.”