ETC Finds Finances A Barrier To Long-Haul Travel

According to the latest Long-Haul Travel Barometer (LHTB) from the European Travel Commission (ETC) and Eurail BV the appetite for overseas travel in the last months of 2022 has improved, with Brazil (150p), Canada (136p) and the US (126p) showing the greatest rise in the sentiment index compared to summer. However, the desire to visit Europe has stagnated in key markets, showing only marginal improvements.

The report offers insights on traveller sentiment for the period of September to December 2022.

With the cost-of-living crisis set to have a crippling impact on household budgets globally this winter, personal finances have become the main reason behind respondents’ (24%) decision not to travel long-haul. Brazilians (55%), Canadians (31%) and Americans (30%) are most sensitive about money matters.

Furthermore, COVID-19 related concerns are still off-putting to many, with 19% of respondents stating it as a reason not to travel overseas, particularly those in Asia.

Luís Araújo, ETC’s president, said of the findings: “It is positive to see a continued improvement in long-haul travel sentiment. Nonetheless, this latest Long-Haul Travel Barometer reflects the negative impacts that the increased cost-of-living is having on people’s ability to travel internationally. It is likely that personal finances will significantly alter people’s travel choices in the coming months – this is a situation which ETC and its members are committed to monitoring closely and addressing.”

The LHTB examines travel intentions in seven overseas markets – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Russia, and the US each trimester. The intention to travel is measured by an index that reflects the dominant sentiment expressed by a market[1], either positive or negative. Values above 100 index points indicate a positive evolution, whereas values below 100 indicate negative attitudes towards travel in a given period.

American Sentiment Remains Weak

Travel sentiment to Europe remains weak among Americans (94p), with 41% of US respondents stating that they will feel more confident travelling to European destinations when their economic situation improves.

Of those Americans who are planning a trip to Europe, over half (56%) want to visit multiple countries, with France, Italy, the UK and Germany at the top of their bucket list.

When choosing a destination, priorities for American tourists include high-quality tourism infrastructure[2] (35%), security (33%) and prices (31%). Americans also consider a destination’s crowdedness as an important criterion (23%), more than respondents in other markets (16% in the total sample).

Positive Sentiment In Canada

In Canada, the resumption of flight connections and the gradual lifting of travel restrictions have resulted in a positive sentiment (104p) to visit Europe and may signal the beginning of a rebound in international travel.

Almost 60% of Canadians wanting to come to Europe desire multiple-country trips. At the top of their destination wish list are France, Italy and the UK. Exploring Europe’s cultural and historical heritage is the leading motivation for Canadians over the autumn and early winter.

Similarly, travel sentiment is positive among Brazilians (103p), with over half (55%) of respondents eager to visit European destinations in the next months. It is expected that interest in the region will continue to grow, in part because of improved air connectivity between Brazil and European cities. Portugal (41%) tops the list as the preferred destination for Brazilian travellers.

Despite the zero-COVID strategy, Chinese travel sentiment to Europe has turned positive (103p), with 64% of respondents hoping to visit a European destination in the coming months.

COVID-19 Concerns Remain

Nonetheless, COVID-19 concerns remain the main barrier, with 39% of Chinese stating it as a reason not to travel in September-December 2022. Over a quarter of Chinese respondents (29%) feel it is still too complicated to travel overseas due to Covid-19.

Japan is a more risk-averse market as the sentiment level for travel overseas has remained negative since the start of the pandemic. Of all surveyed Japanese, only 22% consider taking a long-haul trip in the coming months, out of which, 13% have Europe in mind.

Nearly 60% of surveyed Australians plan an overseas trip by the end of 2022, with 38% considering a European destination. Regardless of age, those willing to visit Europe are eager to discover historical sites and monuments, wander around European cities, enjoy urban design and nightlife and participate in culinary experiences.

When choosing a holiday destination, the perceived safety and the quality of tourism infrastructure are of utmost importance for Australians. Compared to other markets, they pay more attention to the costs of services and products at the destinations (32% vs 27% in the total sample).

Compared to summer, travel sentiment in Russia improves for both long-haul (136p) and European (87p) destinations. However, the sentiment remains below the levels registered over autumn in the past years, reflecting the geopolitical situation and current obstacles for Russians to travel outside their country. Among the surveyed respondents, less than a quarter (24%) plan to travel to Europe in September-December 2022 (vs 36% in 2021). Turkey, which kept air connectivity and its borders open to Russian citizens, is the most popular destination among potential travellers in this market (22%).

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[1] The index value for Australia in September 2022 is 100. The evolution of the index will be visible in September 2023

[2] E.g., well-developed public transportation, roads/highways, accommodation, etc.