Lockdowns have persisted into 2021 as COVID-19 infection rates surge in some countries despite the vaccination rollout. Prospects for the summer season are mixed. While Europe works to overcome hurdles relating to vaccine side effects and supply shortages, inoculation programs are still expected to accelerate over the summer, bringing down COVID-19 cases and raising hopes of easing restrictions.
European travel demand remained weak in early 2021 as international tourist arrivals dropped 83% in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2020.
The gradual easing of restrictions, the ramp-up in vaccinations in Europe, and the reopening of the EU to fully vaccinated travelers from third countries provide some momentum ahead of the peak summer months. Down-side risks remain following the surge in infections of the new and more transmissible Covid-19 Deltavariant, which could force the return of travel restrictions.
Mass vaccinations have been essential to kickstart travel sentiment with 54% of surveyed Europeans intending to book a trip once they have been vaccinated against Covid-19
This sentiment is in line with a recent EU survey which shows that 75% of respondents believe that Covid-19 vaccines are the only way to end the pandemic, and 49% agree that getting a vaccine is very important to allow them to resume travel However, uneven vaccination rates, will lead to an uneven recovery across Europe.