Long-haul travel intentions to Europe ‘remain weak’

Intentions to travel to Europe between September and December remain weak in key overseas long-haul markets, latest research shows.

Many will remain cautious about visiting European destinations as long as Covid-19 safety concerns persist.

However, with vaccination rates continuing to improve across the globe, there is a greater appetite from long-haul travellers to visit Europe than this time last year, according to the study by European Travel Commission (ETC) and Eurail.

It anticipates short-term travel intentions in five overseas markets – Canada, China, Japan, Russia and the US – every four months.

Long-haul travel sentiment in the US is positive, but Americans are less confident when Europe is the destination due to continued speculation about last-minute changes to travel restrictions.

Although some European destinations remain fully open to Americans, the removal of the US from the EU safe travel list has created hesitancy.

US respondents who intend to travel to Europe are likely to choose countries which have demonstrated good management of the pandemic, as well as those which are less crowded. November and December are seen as the more feasible months for materialising travel plans.

Western and central European countries remain the most popular locations among Chinese tourists planning to visit the region.

As long as these destinations effectively manage the pandemic, those travelling from China will not be deterred by crowds.

There is a continued interest in multi-country trips, highlighting the need for more harmonised travel rules across Europe.

The few Japanese respondents (28%) willing to travel to Europe in the next months shared that the affordable services and the availability of popular attractions are of growing importance, while efficient hygiene protocols and low rates of infection remain the prime criteria.

Of Russians intending to visit Europe in the last months of 2021, there is a demand for less crowded destinations with milder weather and more affordable services.

Turkey, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and France are the top five destinations among Russian respondents.

Canadians heading to Europe prefer city breaks during November and December and are particularly attracted by historical heritage.

More than half of Canadians will consider safety, accessibility, affordability and the destinations’ efforts to preserve natural and cultural heritage when choosing their next holiday.

ETC president Luis Araujo said: “While it is heartening to see some increase in desire to travel internationally and visit Europe, these latest results clearly demonstrate that more work needs to be done to boost tourism to Europe from key overseas markets.

“Travellers are still hesitant to consider Europe as a destination right now.

“Looking towards 2022, it is imperative that we strive to implement more harmonised travel rules in Europe and globally and create greater clarity for long-haul travellers.

“As vaccination campaigns keep progressing, it is time to shift the focus from a risky country to a risky traveller.”

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