Europeans are still not travelling as much as they did pre-pandemic


Europeans still aren't travelling as much as they did before the pandemic. — AFP

In Europe, the effects of Covid-19 are still being felt in the tourism sector. While soaring air fares have fuelled many conversations in 2023, the number of European travellers who have decided to take trips is not yet back at the same level as in 2019, the year before the pandemic that is often used as a benchmark.

Precisely, in 2022, Europeans booked 976 million tourism trips, up 21% on the previous year, according to European Union figures, published by Eurostat. So things are looking up, but looking back further in time, it appears that people don’t travel like they used to, at least not at the moment.

Travel habits actually seem more similar to those of 2017, in terms of the number of trips. Europeans booked 975 million leisure trips that year. By comparison, there were 652 million in 2020, the year of the Covid-19 pandemic, versus 1.014 billion in 2019.

In reality, it’s only a matter of time before pre-pandemic levels are matched. Last spring, the World Tourism Organisation stated that more than 960 million people travelled internationally in 2022, two-thirds the volume seen prior to the pandemic. At the beginning of this year, in the first three months alone, tourism took off, with 235 million international travellers, more than double the figure for the same period a year earlier.

In Europe, tourists from Luxembourg rack up the biggest average spend per night on overnight stays, spending €175 (RM894) per night in 2022, compared with €84 (RM429) for French tourists, below the European average of €87 (RM445) per night. Inflation may also be a factor, since expenditure is up 30% compared to 2021.

However, there is another form of travel that is struggling to regain the same momentum as in the past: Business travel. Many employers have realised that meetings can be conducted just as well online, offering the opportunity to save a substantial travel budget, since only 100 million business trips were recorded in Europe in 2022, compared to 117 million business trips 10 years ago.

In addition to the financial aspect, ecological issues are also being taken into account. Since the beginning of the year, it is estimated that 60% of business travel bookings in France were for train trips, according to a study by Qonto, reported by Tourmag. – AFP Relaxnews

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