According to the most recent edition of the ‘European Tourism Trends & Prospects’ quarterly report, EU travel volumes are still considerably below pre-pandemic levels and are not expected to be matched until 2024.
The study, which is sponsored by the European Travel Commission (ETC), tracks the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and how travel activity is rebounding.
It concludes that international arrivals will be 60 percent below 2019 figures by the end of 2021, despite the increase seen in summer.
Domestic travel, on the other hand, is still down 77% from pre-pandemic levels although the introduction of the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate was critical to simplifying cross-border mobility over the last peak season.
“…Vaccination efforts won’t be enough. As the winter months approach, it is imperative that Europe strives to further restore the freedom of movement by implementing more holistic and coherent approaches for travel within and outside the EU,” said Luís Araújo, ETC’s President.
According to data collected by the ETC in the third quarter, the first nations to reopen were also the most demanded tourist destinations.
For instance, the largest increase in arrivals from 2019 rates was seen in Greece (-19% vs. 2019) and Croatia (-37%).
In contrast, the Czech Republic saw the worst drop (-94%) as a result of its stringent COVID-19 measures.
According to ETC, two-thirds of European citizens want to travel during the autumn and winter seasons.
However, their plans could be put on hold as Europe becomes the “epicenter of COVID-19 once again” as per the World Health Organization (WHO).
The number of new coronavirus cases has increased by more than 50%. The health agency has warned that the continent might see other half-million deaths by February.
“If you look at the last four weeks, the hospitalizations have doubled,” Dr. Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe, told CBS News.
Countries such as the Netherlands, Hungry, and France had to reintroduce COVID-19 restrictions this week due to a rise in hospitalizations.
Thus, everything points that that the already-confirmed fifth wave of coronavirus cases may put off the recovery of European travel to 2024.