As the EU looks set to open its borders to more countries and vaccinated holidaymakers this summer, coordinated rules on international travel will be crucial to instil confidence in tourists considering a visit to the region.
According to the latest Long-Haul Travel Barometer 2/2021 (LHTB), even after a year of strict COVID-19 restrictions, travellers from overseas markets are still hopeful to travel but are also cautious to consider Europe as a destination due to the continuous lack of harmonised rules on travel across the region. Over the coming months, unity and consistency of safety measures will be of key importance if European destinations are to capitalise on recent positive developments.
The LHTB from the European Travel Commission (ETC) and Eurail B.V. anticipates short-term travel intentions in five overseas markets – Brazil, China, Japan, Russia, and the United States every four months. Intention to travel is measured in an index that reflects the dominant sentiment expressed by a market, either positive or negative. Values above 100 indicate a positive evolution, whereas values below 100 indicate negative attitudes towards travel in a given period.
The sentiment index for overseas travel in the US and Russia remains positive, however worryingly, only 2 in 5 respondents from these markets are optimistic about visiting Europe in summer 2021. This is a warning sign for Europe and may lead to the region losing out to domestic and short-haul destinations due to their geographical proximity and openness to travellers from either the US or Russia.
Speaking following the publication of the LHTB, executive director of ETC, Eduardo Santander said: “With the planned opening of European borders over the coming months, it is imperative that clear and coherent messages are communicated to international travellers wishing to visit Europe. The restart of European tourism in summer 2021 is now a realistic possibility. Still, our research shows that a lack of clarity, coupled with a disjointed and uncoordinated approach, means that travellers are hesitant to consider Europe as a destination right now. However, with progressing vaccination campaigns across the world, we have high expectations for the late summer and strong autumn season. The right investment in travel promotion and in boosting tourism confidence will play a significant role in salvaging this summer and beyond.