The European Travel Commission (ETC) announces European travel sentiment to have reached “a new high”. The boost in tourism this year is sparking hope on the road to pre-pandemic levels, despite the pandemic and conflict in Ukraine.
Alternatively, previous years of distress and travel restrictions may have done much to spark a new-profound appreciation for a holiday get-away. Nevertheless, tourism has increased drastically since 2020, allowing economic recovery in a time of need.
Ibiza’s local newsletter reports the peak of the tourist season - a July that resonates with August. The island's beautiful horizon hides behind masses of ships and yachts. One of the beaches near the main town, Eivissa, records 150 boats of all sizes, some struggling to make their way out.
However, while top tourist destinations like Ibiza witness a tourism boost beyond pre-pandemic standards, the European travel sector in 2022 is in no way straightforward.
Domestic travel is to make a complete recovery this summer. In the Mediterranean islands, visitors tend to come predominantly from the EU. On the other hand, international travels to Europe are unexpected to reach or exceed 2019 levels until 2025, currently standing at 30 percent below pre-pandemic levels.
“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 Russo-Ukrainian conflict.”
On a global scale, Western Europe is showing the highest flow of tourism at only 24 percent below 2019 volumes. Most of the top tourist destinations, including Spain, France, and Italy removed all Covid travel restrictions for the vaccinated.
Eastern Europe’s estimated recovery, however, is pushed back to 2025. The Russo-Ukrainian conflict is taking a great toll, leaving Eastern Europe 43 percent below 2019 levels.
Although international tourism is more lenient to visit Europe this year, recent data by MMGY Travel Intelligence suggests 62 percent of US holidaymakers expressed concerns about traveling to Europe due to the war. There is a common fear the conflict could spread to nearby countries in Eastern Europe. These concerns double those that fear for Covid-related health and safety.
Moreover, the effect of the war on the tourist sector goes beyond Eastern Europe. The sanctions on Russia result in rising jet fuel costs, making travel less affordable. The inflammatory effect on essential needs, such as food, requires a higher consumer demand, thus impacting travel within markets. The termination of Ukrainian, Russian, Belarussian, and Moldovan airspaces hinders going to Western Europe.
Overall, as airspaces are limited in the European-Asian air connectivity, and China is returning to pre-pandemic levels due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant, the US is vital for the recovery of the European travel sector. The imbalance between Eastern and Western Europe is widening.
Edited By: Julian Rose
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