European travel activity is set to build some momentum moving into the peak summer months due to the gradual easing of restrictions, the ramp-up in vaccinations, and the EU’s recent reopening to more third countries and fully vaccinated travelers from abroad.
Travel demand is expected to pick up considerably in the second half of 2021, though international arrivals will remain 49% below pre-pandemic levels in 2021. That is according to the latest quarterly ‘European Tourism Trends & Prospects’ report published today by the European Travel Commission (ETC).
The report notes that this summer season is essential for the sector as European travel demand remained weak in early 2021 – international tourist arrivals dropped 83% in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2020. Meanwhile, downside risks linger following the surge in infections of the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant, which could force the return of travel restrictions.
China is expected to make a sizeable contribution to European travel growth over the next decade. Despite accounting for a smaller proportion of arrivals to the region, an expected average annual growth rate of 12% would see Chinese arrivals contribute 4.7% of overall arrivals growth to European destinations over the period 2019-30. However, while domestic traffic in China continues to show remarkable recovery to pre-pandemic levels, Chinese international travel remains stagnant for now.