VALLETTA, June 20 (Xinhua) — Tourists are flocking back to popular destinations across Europe as peak travel season heats up, only to find businesses largely unprepared because of a severe shortage of workers, a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
STRONG START IN 2022
With travel resumption in full swing, airlines are ramping up flight capacity to meet the surge in demand, according to an analysis published by global travel data provider Official Aviation Guide.
The analysis showed that scheduled airline capacity from western European airports was up 29 percent in March from February. April saw a 24 percent increase compared to March, and May saw a further 14 percent increase from April.
British think tank Oxford Economics is also optimistic about the recovery of the European tourism sector, saying it continues to shine bright despite headwinds to the eurozone economy.
For households, pent-up demand for travel after two years of pandemic seems to be trumping the cost-of-living crisis, the think tank said, adding that in a context of gloomy consumer sentiment, households are “prioritising holiday spending at the expense of other expenditure.”
Malta, a popular tourist destination in the Mediterranean Sea, expects to attract 80 percent of the record 2.7 million arrivals it registered in 2019. Bookings have picked up greatly since the pandemic eased its grip, but tourist facilities operators are now struggling to recruit staff.
“Malta went from a longer than usual winter straight into a hot summer and skipped the spring. It seems that the tourism industry has followed the weather,” Tony Zahra, president of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, told Xinhua.
He said that while the rebound was expected, its strength “has caught the industry by surprise.”
Greece’s tourism sector, a vital pillar of the country’s economy for decades, has been forecast to recover and reach the 2019 pre-pandemic record levels this year by local officials and industry experts….