The Q2 2022 ‘European Tourism Trends & Prospects’ report cites a strong outlook for tourism in Europe but warns of looming staff shortage and cost of living crises.
The report highlighted three principal findings:
- As concerns over Covid-19 wane, Europe is expected to recover 70% of pre-pandemic travel demand in 2022;
- Sudden surge in consumer demand coupled with staff shortages pose serious challenges for the sector going into the summer months;
- Long-haul travel into Europe continues to lag significantly behind short- and medium-haul recovery.
Despite concerns regarding rising prices, war in Ukraine and the resurgence of Covid-19, the European Travel Commission (ETC) has found that people will still be keen to travel in Europe this summer. According to the report, recovery is well underway across the continent, boosted in part by the savings consumers made during the health crisis. Though these savings have been hit in recent months by the increasing cost of living due to energy and food price hikes, and rising fuel prices have caused the price of travel to increase.
The commission predicts a 70% recovery in Europe of pre-Covid travel demand. Bulgaria (-8%), Serbia (-10%) and Turkey (-14%) have enjoyed the strongest rebounds in tourist arrivals, whilst Latvia (-63%) has struggled following mass cancellations due to its geographical proximity to Russia. Slovakia and Czechia are amongst the Eastern countries that have exceeded a 50% decline.
Short- and medium-haul travel is set to take the ascendance over long-haul due to cost increases, both in terms of transport and price of living. Furthermore, the Asian and American markets are impacted by Covid-19 restrictions. However, demand from US consumers is now growing slowly since obligatory PCR testing prior to travel ended in early June.
The employment shortage in the tourism sector is threatening recovery. Travel demand now outstrips the labour supply for travel and hospitality players. The report cites the restricted pool of available workers, long security clearance procedures and perceived sector instability post-pandemic as the principal causes of this shortage. 190,000 air travel employees in Europe were laid off during the epidemic. This shortage is impacting on airlines and airports. Over the first weekend of June, the Netherlands saw cancellation rates of up to 11% and the United Kingdom experienced rates of up to 4%.
Covid-19 restrictions have been rolled back, and people are eager to make up for two years of lost travel opportunities. We are witnessing a much faster rebound than travel businesses in Europe had been expecting, and staff shortages may prove to be an obstacle to a complete recovery. Bringing back talent, and making careers in the sector more enticing, is the top priority for European tourism recovery in the months to come. It is also crucial that the EU continues to monitor the impact of inflation on the cost of living – Europe must do everything within its power to ensure that travel does not become inaccessible for the average European.
Luís Araújo, President of the European Travel Commission