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Tourism: Europe will be at the frontline of the recovery, but only in 2024

To determine the pace of recovery after the Covid-19 shock, we look at how long it could take countries to achieve herd immunity and at lessons from past economic slumps. While the US and the UK are on track to reach herd immunity by the end of H1 2021, we expect the EU to reach herd immunity in H2 2021, and Japan in H1 2022. This could prevent people from these countries visiting the US or the UK without documents certifying their health. At the same time, it is important to note that the bulk of available vaccines do not prevent vaccinated people from contaminating others, especially those who have not been vaccinated yet. This could also complicate the tourism recovery.

Our breakdown of the number of tourists by region shows that it is Europe that will be ahead of the curve, even though it is expected to lag behind the US and APAC in the overall economic recovery. Our calculations show that international tourist arrivals to Europe could reach 771mn as soon as 2024, more than triple the all-time low of 227mn seen in 2020.

Europe is likely to see larger tourist arrivals than the other regions because it suffered the largest drop in absolute terms in 2020, with over 500 million fewer international tourists. Besides, we expect EU countries to work together to better align on lifting travel restrictions: Europe has the most to gain in terms of a tourism revival if it can come up with a valid vaccine passport/card solution.


Marc Livinec
Euler Hermes