A beach in Greece, Europe

Tourist arrivals to Europe down by 68%

Despite summer expectations for the travel and tourism industry to mark a recovery by the end of the year, the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, and the travel restrictions that came with it have halted the recovery.

International tourist arrivals to Europe have dropped by 68% halfway through the year, compared to the same period last year. This is revealed in a new report “European Tourism: Trends & Prospects” for Q3 2020, by the European Travel Commission (ETC).

The easing of pandemic restrictions across Europe has let to a hardly noticeable increase in July and August 2020 compared to earlier months. Yet, the reimposed of lockdowns and travel restrictions quickly halted any chance of early recovery.

Heightened uncertainty and downside risks continue to dampen the outlook with European arrivals set to decline 61% in 2020.

ETC Executive Director Eduardo Santander says it is now more important for the European countries to agree on common solutions. They prevent not only the further spread of the virus, but also support the recovery of the tourism.

“The direction of the economic recovery across Europe depends significantly on the recovery of the tourism sector. This is a sector which generates close to 10% of the EU’s GDP. It accounts for over 22 million jobs,” she says. She highlights the importance of protecting businesses, jobs, and enterprises in the travel and tourism industry, which are currently at risk.

More beach holidays, city breaks and outdoor trips

Data by the ETC shows that some of the deepest falls in the number of arrivals in Europe were marked in non-EU member states. In countries such as Montenegro, Turkey, and Serbia. Although more EU countries are in the top eight countries with the sharpest declines, as follows:

Cyprus – 85%; Montenegro – 84%; Romania – 80%; Turkey – 77%; Portugal – 74%; Serbia – 74%; Iceland – 71%; Malta – 71%.

Austria is among the countries in Europe which are in a strong position to achieve a more stable recovery. This is due to less strict restrictions in the country than in other countries. The country mars a decline of 44% by September, which is way less than the other countries.

ETC says that there’s a further need for cooperation among the EU member states and other European nations which currently have quite different restrictions in place.

“Harmonised solutions towards testing and tracing, along with quarantine measures will be crucial to mitigating the downside risks across Europe,” the report reads.

It also points out that the pandemic has also affected the travel choices in European countries. In particular during summer, as travelers have gone after rural and coastal locations avoiding urban areas.

A previous ETC report published in October reveals that about 54% of Europeans plan to take a trip within Europe during the next six months.

The survey shows that the most appealing types of trips are beach holidays (25%), city breaks (19%) and nature/outdoors trips (16%).

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