BRUSSELS - Travel sentiment among Europeans remains strong, with 73% planning to embark on a holiday between June and November 2022 despite various concerns, including high inflation, the Russo-Ukrainian crisis and the ongoing pandemic. Interest in visiting other European destinations (58%) has increased significantly (+7%) since last summer. Notably, 31% of respondents will head to an adjacent European country and 27% to a non-neighbouring one.
The top popular travel destinations remain Spain, France and Italy (10% each), followed by Greece (7%) and Croatia (6%), which enters the top five for the first time. Most Europeans plan on travelling during June and July (41%), or August-September (42%), with the majority favouring stays of between 4-9 nights. Pleasant weather, attractive deals and fewer crowds are deciding factors when choosing a holiday destination, while spending time in nature (19%), tasting the local gastronomy and regional delicacies (16%) and immersing into a destination’s lifestyle (16%) are what travellers’ look forward to most.
These insights come from the latest research on Monitoring Sentiment for Domestic and Intra-European Travel – Wave 12 by the European Travel Commission (ETC), which provides insights into Europeans' short-term travel intentions and preferences.
Commenting on the research, Luís Araújo, President of ETC, stated: “It is encouraging to see the travel sector in Europe rebound strongly, providing optimism for an exciting summer for European destinations. Still, we cannot ignore the challenges that remain in the months ahead. In addition to rising inflation, there is an acute talent shortage across the sector in the wake of the pandemic. This is perhaps most visible in transportation hubs, which are struggling to cater to the increased demand due to a lack of staff. Building this capacity back again is imperative. ETC calls on the EU and European governments to reflect on how best to address these challenges and support the sector.”
Travel confidence growing despite increasing concerns around inflation
Insecurity about personal finances among Europeans has grown by 7% since last summer (13% in summer 2022, compared to 6% in summer 2021). In fact, inflation and rising travel costs have become the leading concern worrying 18% of holidaymakers. As a result, bargains and attractive deals are more important to Europeans when selecting their next holiday destination (15% in May 2022, compared to 6% in May 2021).
Despite these concerns, travel confidence is growing, with 53% of respondents having fully or partially booked their next trip. Of those respondents who are open to travelling in the following months, 34% will take one trip, while 38% plan on travelling twice. Notably, 20% of Europeans plan on taking more than three trips.
Despite this higher confidence, the booking window remains narrow, with almost half of the trips (49%) planned for June or July have not yet been fully booked. This suggests that many are holding off for last-minute, cost-effective deals.
Travel sentiment resilient in face of COVID-19 and Russo-Ukrainian crisis
As COVID-19 has woven itself into daily life, over one-third of Europeans state that their travel plans are unaffected by the virus – the largest share since August 2020. A desire to see strict health and safety protocols in place at travel destinations has dropped to its lowest point yet (now 55%, against 67% in March 2022). Eagerness to travel during summer is stronger among those aged 55+ (79%), possibly to make up for two years of relative holiday inertia caused by the pandemic.
Although geopolitical tensions have not impacted the larger share (44%) of Europeans with travel plans, a noticeable 31% have modified their trips due to the war in Ukraine while only 4% have completely cancelled their holidays. Overall, travel sentiment remains resilient in the face of this ongoing conflict.