Travellers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, the US and China are keen to travel to Europe in 2023 but finances remain a concern. Olivia Palamountain reports

The desire for overseas travel in 2023 has increased significantly in large travel markets compared to a year ago, says the Long-Haul Travel Barometer.

The report, published by the European Travel Commission (ETC) and Eurail BV, provides snapshot of travellers’ sentiment for the year 2023 and dives into more detail for the first four months, with some 60 per cent of potential travellers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China and the US intending to travel long-haul this year.

Which destination is top of mind for this demographic? Europe, with the most notable year-over-year increases observed in Brazil and China; it seems that the removal of the latter’s Covid-19 policy has sparked hope among Chinese travellers, with 63 per cent wishing to visit Europe.

The exception to the positive trend for long-haul travel is Japan, with 27 per cent of respondents enthusiastic about far-flung trips in 2023 as a whole and 13 per cent between January and April.

Luís Araújo, ETC’s President, says: “ETC is pleased to see that long-haul travel sentiment is proving more positive this year than in 2022. A significant development that will surely have a major impact on travel to Europe in the coming year is China’s reopening.

“The removal of China’s zero Covid-19 policy has reinstated travel confidence among Chinese travellers, and China’s sentiment index for travelling to Europe is now at values close to pre-pandemic times.

“This is hopeful news, but still, there remain concerns that in the context of inflationary pressures, personal finances may limit long-haul travel overall. Promoting Europe in overseas markets remains crucial for the sector’s continued recovery in 2023.”

Good value for less budget

Despite the positive outlook for 2023, high inflation continues to influence travel sentiment and value for money is becoming essential for Australian, Brazilian, American, and Canadian travellers, in particular.

41 per cent of respondents mentioned an improved financial situation would provide comfort to plan long-haul trips in 2023, while another 35 per cent said bargains and attractive deals for travel to and located at the destination would be influencing factors.

The removal of Covid-19 border restrictions also remains essential for travellers’ confidence, according to 35 per cent of all respondents; destinations that have fully lifted travel barriers may be perceived as more appealing in 2023.

China finally ready to travel long-haul

While the removal of China’s zero Covid-19 policy in December 2022 has caused a positive change in the potential for long-haul travel, important barriers to the immediate recovery of tourism flowing from China remains. These include air connectivity and capacity, the recent re-imposition of Covid-19 safety measures in some destinations, and health concerns.

For respondents in China, the main considerations when choosing a holiday destination are the tourism infrastructure, weather conditions, and the perceived safety of the destination. Notably, Chinese travellers are eager to return to luxury shopping in Europe.

North Americans more eager to travel overseas

40 per cent of US respondents intend to travel outside North America by April 2023, and 33 per cent consider Europe as a destination. This marks a significant change to the same period in 2022, when only 28% of Americans planned to travel overseas, and 23 per cent to Europe.

In the US, eagerness to travel is associated with a higher annual household income. Findings show that 55 per cent of Americans earning US$75,000 or more look forward to travelling, compared to just 20 per cent of respondents in the other income groups. In contrast to other markets, a large share of US respondents (20 per cent) are open to solo travel.

The Canadian market is also on track for a gradual recovery. The share of Canadians planning to visit Europe between January and April increased from 15 per cent in 2022 to 29 per cent in 2023, yet, the majority (62 per cent) of Canadian respondents will refrain from overseas trips at the beginning of 2023. The main deterrent for 39 per cent of them is their disposable budget.

Canadians wishing to visit Europe in the next months will look for experiences revolving around history and culture, and the vibrant life of European cities. The top European destinations for Canadians are France, Italy, the UK and Germany.