WTTC says this slow recovery is due to travel restrictions throughout the year, particularly in the first half, which continued to hinder the sector’s recovery. Before the pandemic struck, Europe’s Travel and Tourism sector’s contribution to GDP represented €1.92 trillion (9.5 per cent of the total economy). However, according to the research, and based on the current rate of recovery, the sector’s contribution to GDP could see an increase of less than a quarter (23.9 per cent) in 2021, falling behind the expected growth of the global sector of 30.7 per cent.
The data also reveals that in 2022, Travel and Tourism’s contribution to the European economy could see a further year on year rise of 38 per cent, representing an increase of €439 billion. Although far from pre-pandemic levels, the growth of the sector has seen a slight rise due to the successful vaccination rollout, and intra-European mobility, supported by the EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate, which was launched in early July 2021. But with borders closed internationally, Europe has struggled to recover.
The global tourism body says whilst the surge in domestic travel has provided some relief, it is not enough to achieve the full recovery the region needs in order to salvage Europe’s economy and millions of jobs.
Travel recovery to be accelerated in 2022
Julia Simpson, WTTC President and CEO, 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 & Tourism sector. We need governments to replace the patchwork of restrictions with a set of harmonised rules for travel.”
Earlier this week, WTTC also joined forces with a number of Travel and Tourism associations such as Airports Council International, the European Travel Commission, and Cruise Lines International Association, calling on EU governments to remove all ‘traffic light’ systems and move towards a traveller risk approach, instead of risk based on entire countries.
The Head of The Global Network/Strategic Suppliers at MAPFRE Asistencia recently spoke to ITIJ about why the travel and health insurance sector needs to boost investment in technology to help the industry recover faster.