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ETC: COVID-19 Infection Rates & Inconsistent Travel Restrictions Discouraging Overseas Travellers From Visiting the EU

The European Travel Commission (ETC) has revealed that COVID-19 safety concerns remain the main excuse why long-haul travellers are hesitant about travelling, despite the travel outlook showing progress since autumn 2020.

According to the latest Long-Haul Travel Barometer (LHTB) for the last quarter of the year (September to December 2021), the interest for travelling among overseas travellers is low as the COVID-19 incidence rates remain concerning. However, compared to 2020, this year, foreign long-haul travellers are more eager to visit European destinations, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

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 press release by ETC regarding the research findings explains.

On the other hand, LHTB expects travellers from Canada, China, Japan, Russia, and the United States to carry out short-term trips throughout the next four months.

However, the ETC’s President, Luís Araújo, said that while the results demonstrate a slight recovery in long-haul travel, more work needs to be done for the tourism to resume in these markets, in order to have these travellers visiting Europe again.

“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,” President Araújo said.

Furthermore, Chinese travellers’ interest in long-haul travel increased from 69 to 92 during the one year, starting in September 2020. Their top destinations remain Western and Central European countries, with a special interest detected on multi-country trips.

On the other hand, while the long-haul travel interest is positive (125), Europe isn’t Americans’ top destination, and they point their fingers at last-minute travel changes. Moreover, an EU recommendation to impose more stringent travel restrictions on Americans, which was widely adopted by European countries, has also impacted Americans’ willingness to visit the continent.

However, American nationals who participated in the research noted that the countries who managed the pandemic best lead their list as travel destinations. According to respondents, November and December are the potential months to carry out their travelling plans.

On the other hand, Russians are not as interested in visiting Europe as Sputnik, the Russian-invented vaccine, hasn’t found much support or recognition among the EU countries. However, the interest in visiting other places among Russians is high (151 compared to 100 for visiting the EU).

“Compared to the other analysed markets, Russians shared that COVID-19 had not influenced their decision (22 per cent vs 42 per cent in all markets) as much as the travel-related costs (19 per cent vs 11 per cent in all markets) and the availability of services and experiences (nine per cent vs five per cent in all markets),” the press release further notes.

However, Russian respondents confirmed they were open to visit Europe in the next two years (39 per cent), whereas 38 per cent remained undecided.

Japan’s travel sentiment index is set at 62 for long-haul travel, but the figure increases to 94 for long-haul travel in the European continent. Only 28 per cent of Japanese respondents confirmed that affordable services play an important role in their travel choice. However, they said that efficient hygiene protocols and low incidence rates with COVID-19 are vital factors determining their travel destinations.

Like Japanese, Canadians also claim to be hesitant about long-haul trips, with only 28 per cent interested in visiting Europe during the last quarter of the year. Moreover, 46 per cent revealed that health and safety concerns are keeping them away from travelling, whereas 33 per cent said they had no plans to travel to the EU by the end of the year.

In contrast to Japanese, over half of Canadians consider not only safety but also popular spots availability. Canadians also value the pricing of services and how well preserved the natural and cultural heritage have been when choosing their holiday destination.

Previously, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) most recent survey shows that tourism recovery is slacking due to uneven vaccination rates globally. Moreover, 62 million jobs related to the tourism sector were lost last year, due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.

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