Travel between China and Europe continues to lag behind other long-haul markets, and is not expected to full recover until 2026, according to new insights from The European Travel Commission (ETC) and Tourism Economics.

Travel between the two continents is expected to reach 60-70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in 2023, with forward data on bookings showing that “Chinese travellers still favour domestic travel”.

By contrast travel from the US to Europe is forecast to surpass 80 per cent of 2019 levels this year, before fully recovering to pre-pandemic levels in 2024.

There have been a raft of new route announcements between Europe and the US in recent months, including four additional Norse Atlantic services from Gatwick, and JetBlue’s new daytime between New York JFK and London Heathrow.

Jetblue to launch daytime New York JFK-London Heathrow service

A gradual recovery in other long-haul markets means travel from India and Bazil to Europe is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels during 2025.

In a joint press conference at this week’s ITB tourism trade fair in Berlin, ETC, Tourism Economics and the European Tourism Association (ETOA) warned that “the return of long-haul arrivals is necessary for complete recovery of visitor spend and the associated benefits needed to support the tourism sector in Europe through ongoing economic turmoil”.

The associations said that “long-haul travel has been a key weakness in the post-pandemic rebound to date and continues to lag behind short- and medium-haul arrivals”.

Prior to Covid long-haul visitors accounted for 25 per cent of international nights spent in Europe, providing the region with higher economic gains as “they tend to stay for longer and travel to multiple destinations”.

Commenting on the data Tom Jenkins, CEO, ETOA, said:

“The arrival of the Chinese visitors transformed some destinations in Europe. Their absence since 2019 has been sorely missed.

“The anticipated return of real volumes in 2024 enables these destinations to invest again in the services that these clients need.

“This recovery is not certain. All sorts of barriers lie in the way. Increased fuel costs, reduced capacity in Europe, the issuance of passports and the global political situation: all these count against a full recovery.

“So where we can do the right thing, we should. Visas must be simplified and issued promptly. Testing requirements (particularly when medically unnecessary) should be eased. Every effort must be made to make these visitors welcome”.,,