The European Travel Commission (ETC) hosted a joint press conference with Tourism Economics and European Tourism Association (ETOA) in Berlin, regarding the state of long-haul travel recovery to Europe and expectations for the coming year.
The organisations stated that the return of long-haul arrivals is necessary for complete recovery of visitor spend, and the associated benefits needed to support the tourism sector in Europe through ongoing economic turmoil.
According to latest insights presented by ETC and Tourism Economics, European travel recovery began in 2022, and international arrivals increased to almost 80 per cent of 2019 levels for the year on average.
Looking ahead, international travel to Europe is forecast to recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2025. However, long-haul travel has been a key weakness in the post-pandemic rebound to date and continues to lag behind short- and medium-haul arrivals.
Long-haul visitors accounted for 25 per cent of the international nights spent in Europe prior to Covid-19. On average, they tend to stay for longer and travel to multiple destinations, therefore providing higher economic gains. Notably, the share of nights and spend from overseas markets in Europe exceeds the proportion of arrivals, thanks to the longer trips and higher associated budgets.
David Goodger, Director, Tourism Economics, said: “Returning long-haul travel demand is essential for a complete recovery in European travel activity, including all associated economic benefits. The opportunity is particularly clear as intraregional demand faces significant challenges from the economic slowdown.”
Tom Jenkins, CEO, ETOA, added: “The arrival of the Chinese visitors transformed some destinations in Europe. Their absence since 2019 has been sorely missed. The anticipated return of real volumes in 2024 enables these destinations to invest again in the services that these clients need. This recovery is not certain.
“All sorts of barriers lie in the way. Increased fuel costs, reduced capacity in Europe, the issuance of passports and the global political situation: all these count against a full recovery. So, where we can do the right thing, we should. Visas must be simplified and issued promptly. Testing requirements (particularly when medically unnecessary) should be eased. Every effort must be made to make these visitors welcome.”