Skift Take

Backyard tourism continues to dominate as predicted — most Europeans will stick even closer to home this year. But their increased preference for air travel versus train, according to the report, is concerning and comes just as the European Union aims to crack down on emissions.

Leisure travel plans among European residents has hit an all-time high since the global pandemic. Three out of four Europeans now say they are gearing up to travel either regionally or domestically between the spring and summer seasons this year — undeterred by the war in Ukraine, Covid surges or increased cost of living. That’s 77 percent of Europeans compared to 67 percent last summer. 

More than half also plan to visit another European country, while 30 percent will stick closer to home and explore within their country’s borders.

Those are the latest results from the European Travel Commission’s monthly survey gauging travel sentiment for domestic and intra-European travel in Europe’s top ten European source markets, including Germany, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Poland and Austria. 

“European confidence in travelling is growing now that COVID-19 has largely become a fact of life,” said Luis Araújo, president of the European Travel Commission. “ETC is pleased to see that in spite of these uncertainties, appetite for travel is still on the rise and the European tourism sector remains resilient.”

The survey ran during the second and third weeks of the Ukraine war, a sign that neither the ongoing pandemic nor conflict in Europe has impacted Europeans’ decision to travel as much as might have been expected. It also confirms what airlines have anticipated will be a busy summer with plans to fly only one percent less capacity in Europe in this upcoming third quarter compared to 2019. 

european travel commission resident survey march 2022

Still, just one in four Europeans have fully booked their next trip, which the report indicates could point to some level of impact from the war casting uncertainty over the future. Last-minute bookings might increase as a result.  

Western and southern Europe beach favorites continue to top the favorites’ list, with Spain, Italy and France among the most in demand. Croatia and Turkey, however, still rank in the top ten as interest in Eastern European destinations remains nearly the same as a year ago.

Family travel is dominating the demand as opposed to solo or couple travel, according to the survey, with boomers leading the way when it comes to intent to travel — at 83 percent — surpassing travel interest from Gen Z at 69 percent.

The most concerning data from this latest sentiment survey is that Europeans’ demand for air travel has increased by seven percent compared to an earlier survey from December 2021, while their interest in train and bus travel has decreased to a record low since August 2020.

Concerned that this will mean Europe’s tourism transportation emissions increasing for the first time since 2019, the European Travel Commission’s report recommends that destinations mitigate environmental impacts this upcoming peak season by finding ways to cooperate with rail companies and promoting alternatives to air travel for domestic visitors and those from neighboring countries.

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Tags: coronavirus recovery, europe, european travel, european travel commission, resident sentiment, summer travel

Photo credit: Italy ranks among the three most popular summer destinations among Europeans, most of whom plan to travel within their region or country. Vanessa / Unsplash