According to a new study by the European Travel Commission (ETC), two out of three Europeans, or 66 percent, plan to travel in the next six months, demonstrating the increase in the confidence of travellers within Europe.

The 9th update of the "Monitoring Sentiment for Domestic and Intra-European Travel" states that intra-European travel exceeds domestic travel, indicating that 55 percent of short-term travellers prefer to visit another European country.

Air travel is also on the rise, with more than 50 percent of respondents to the ETC report saying they "feel comfortable catching a plane again".

The study data shows that, for the first time since October 2020, Europeans' travel plans are evenly distributed over the next six months: 26 percent choose to travel between October and November, 28 percent between December 2021 and January 2022 and 25 percent are looking to travel in February and March 2022.

As travel sentiment continues to improve and pandemic restrictions become the new norm, 'ready to travel' Europeans are more determined to stick to their travel plans according to the study (39 percent up on the previous report).

Intra-European city breaks are now at the top of European preferences with more than one in two Europeans with short-term travel plans intending to visit other European countries, corresponding to one 41 percent increase since September 2020.

On the other hand, preferences for domestic travel (32 percent) is down by 18 percent in the last twelve months. Mediterranean destinations top the list of travellers, with Spain and Italy (both 9 percent), France (8 percent) and Greece (7 percent) as the top preferences.

Safety first

Data from the ETC report also indicates an increase in preference for air travel, although health and safety concerns continue to remain key for travellers.

While there is persistent hesitation about air travel, more than 50 percent of "ready to travel" Europeans are eager to switch to air travel (a 13 percent increase from the previous study). "This is another sign of greater consumer confidence in the use of commercial flights to optimise travel time," says the ETC in a statement.

Despite the greater desire to travel in the next six months, 63 percent of "early bird" travellers still have health and safety protocols in place at their destination, a reality that makes them feel "more comfortable and likely to enjoy the trip."

"Destinations and tourism companies must reassure travellers through effective measures against Covid-19, especially in relation to the areas of greatest concern: air travel, in-destination transportation and local attractions."