After two years of pandemic, the travel and tourism sector has started recovering this year. Over the summer months, Europe has seen a strong rebound, some destinations even exceeding pre-Covid levels, in part due to people wanting to make up for the lost time during lockdown.
At the same time, the sector has had new challenges to tackle, including staff shortages, strikes, the increased cost of living and energy crisis brought on by the war in Ukraine. To concretely assess the impact of all these factors, the European Travel Commission (ETC) has released a report based on an analysis of consumers’ behaviour and experiences during the summer of 2022 and their future expectations.
By understanding tourists’ behaviours and expectations, ETC’s latest report, part of a two-phased research, will allow travel providers to design tourism products and services more relevant and targeted towards consumers’ needs.
This study is based on in-depth interviews with consumers from European markets (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) and long-haul markets (Australia and the United States), as well as interviews with experts in the tourism industry.
1. Staff shortages
The research found that 94% of the participants are satisfied or very satisfied with their holiday in Europe in the summer of 2022. Moreover, their trust in travel providers has not been affected by the staff shortages, even though 54% of them were affected.
2. Perceptions of Europe as a tourism destination
Despite all the challenges, 91% of the respondents have a positive perception of Europe as a tourism destination, appreciating most the region’s cultural diversity, tourist attractions and geographical proximity of destinations.
On the other hand, almost 2 in 5 participants mentioned they will avoid visiting countries neighbouring the conflict zone, but only 7% will completely avoid travelling to Eastern Europe in general.
While most international travellers did not worry about getting Covid-19 on their holidays, Covid-related concerns were still present during planning for 22% of the participants in the study. The interviewees would prefer some pandemic habits to remain in the future, such as enhanced hygiene and social distancing, as well as offers providing consumer protection through last-minute cancellations, refunds or flexibility for changes.
4. Value for money
The report also found that travellers increasingly desire value for money, with approximately 3 in 4 respondents expecting inflation to impact their future travel. Consumers are expected to do more thorough research before booking their next holidays, reduce the length of their trips, travel off peak season, prioritise their travel budget more wisely and decrease their spending at the destination.
5. Environmentally friendly travel
The experts emphasise addressing climate change as a key challenge for the tourism sector. It is not a matter that can be resolved overnight, however, some of the many ways it can be influenced is through improving land-based transport connectivity and emissions offsetting programmes. An openness to greener initiatives is also observed amongst the interviewees, suggesting the eagerness for more eco-friendly travel options among consumers.