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Travel: Mixed Prospects in Europe for summer 2021

May 12, 2021. As Europe works to accelerate vaccination programmes over the coming months and control the spread of COVID-19, an expected easing of restrictions provides “some hope for travel in summer 2021,” according to the European Travel Commission’s (ETC) latest quarterly report ‘European Tourism Trends & Prospects’.

The publication outlines that despite vaccine hurdles in recent months, the inoculation programmes are “vital in enabling the restart of travel” and offers an optimistic viewpoint backed-up by the expected significant amount of pent-up demand which has accumulated following months of travel restrictions – the ETC’s own data shows that 56% of Europeans are willing to travel by the end of August 2021.

The opening of international travel routes is hugely anticipated, but as the UK highlighted just last week, the fine balance between allowing people to travel and maintaining control over potential COVID-19 spread means the list of destinations open to citizens without strict quarantine requirements may remain limited.

In the UK’s case popular summer destinations such as France, Spain and Turkey remain on the restricted list. Travel into Portugal, Iceland, Gibraltar and Israel is permitted, as is Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, but the latter two still restrict arrivals from the UK and mean quarantines will still be required for eastbound travellers. It is still a complex situation that will mean many will be put off making plans.

A resurgence of COVID-19 cases, coupled with prohibitive quarantine and testing requirements dampened traveller sentiment in 2020 and into 2021, with available data indicating an -85% plunge in international tourist arrivals to Europe in January 2021, says the ETC in its report. While vaccination programmes provide a boost, “the outlook remains mixed,” it acknowledges, with latest forecasts estimating that international arrivals to Europe will remain -46% below 2019 levels in 2021, with a full recovery not expected until 2024.