The travel and tourism sector in Europe is lagging behind the global recovery.
The contribution of the European travel and tourism sector to GDP will increase by less than a quarter this year
Employment in the sector remains stagnant in 2021, however, with the right measures, the number of people employed in the sector next year could exceed pre-pandemic levels
With millions of additional European citizens fully vaccinated, international spending is expected to rebound by nearly 80 %% in 2022
The latest research from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) shows that the annual recovery of the European travel and tourism sector may only grow to 23.9% this year.
WTTC data indicates that this slow recovery is due to travel restrictions throughout the year, particularly in the first half of the year, which continued to hamper the industry’s recovery.
Before the pandemic, the contribution of the European travel and tourism sector to GDP was € 1.92 trillion (9.5% of the total economy).
However, according to research, and based on the current rate of recovery, the sector’s contribution to GDP could increase by less than a quarter (23.9%) in 2021, lagging behind the expected growth of the global sector by 30%. , 7%.
The data also shows that by 2022, the contribution of travel and tourism to the European economy could increase by 38% year-on-year, an increase of 439 billion euros.
Although far from pre-pandemic levels, sector growth has seen a slight increase due to the successful deployment of vaccination and intra-European mobility, supported by the EU’s COVID digital certificate, which has been launched in early July this year. But with borders closed internationally, Europe has struggled to recover.
The world tourism body says that while the increase in domestic travel has brought some relief, it is not enough to achieve the full recovery the region needs to save the European economy and millions of jobs.
The study goes on to show that while domestic spending is expected to increase by 30.2% year on year in 2021, international spending is expected to experience a smaller increase of just 19.3% this year, reaching € 242 billion, although below pre-pandemic levels. of 560 billion euros in 2019.
Next year, domestic spending is expected to increase by 27.7%. However, with relaxed restrictions in many European countries and with millions of additional European citizens fully vaccinated, international spending is expected to rebound 77.2% year over year.
In 2019, the European travel and tourism sector supported more than 38 million jobs. After suffering a loss of 3.6 million jobs last year when the pandemic almost brought international travel to a halt, job growth is expected to stagnate this year.
However, WTTC research reveals an expected 15.7% increase in jobs in 2022, increasing by 5.5 million jobs to pre-pandemic levels.
Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, said: “Our research shows that while the European travel and tourism industry is slowly starting to recover, there is still a long way to go.
“With the borders of many European countries now open to international travel for fully vaccinated travelers, the region’s economic recovery will be accelerated next year. It could restore millions of jobs and livelihoods that depend on a thriving travel and tourism sector.
“We need governments to replace the patchwork of restrictions with a set of harmonized travel rules.”
According to research conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of the WTTC, the sector’s contribution to the region’s GDP and rising employment could be more positive this year and next, if five vital metrics are followed by governments around the world.
These measures include allowing fully vaccinated travelers to move freely, regardless of their origin or possible destination.
Second, the implementation of digital solutions that make it easy for all travelers to prove their COVID status (such as the EU’s digital COVID certificate), in turn speeding up the process at borders around the world.
Third, for safe international travel to fully resume, governments must recognize for all vaccines authorized by WHO and fourth, the continued support of the COVAX / UNICEF initiative to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.
Finally, the continued implementation of reinforced health and safety protocols, which will strengthen customer confidence.
If these five vital measures are followed before the end of 2021, research shows that the impact on the economy and employment in Europe could be significant.
The contribution of travel and tourism to GDP could increase by 28.8% (nearly 270 billion euros) by the end of this year, followed by an annual increase of 40.3% (over 480 billion euros). euros) in 2022.
International spending would also benefit from the government’s action, and would grow by 26.3% this year, and a significant increase of 81.8% in 2022.
The growth of the sector could also have a positive impact on employment, with a 4% increase in jobs in 2021. However, with the right measures to support travel and tourism, the number of people employed in the sector is growing. next year could exceed pre-pandemic levels. with an annual increase of 17.6%, reaching nearly 43 million jobs.
Earlier this week, the WTTC also partnered with a number of travel and tourism associations such as Airports Council International, the European Travel Commission and Cruise Lines International Association, calling on EU governments to remove all systems of “traffic lights” and to look to a traveler approach to risk, instead of risk based on entire countries.
Together, the WTTC and associations believe this approach would further accelerate the recovery of the travel and tourism industry.