Holidaymakers are being put off travelling within Europe by uncertainty over a “baffling array” of rules and advice, according to the WTTC.

It has called for more consistent travel rules and national border restrictions, saying the sector’s return is urgently needed to regenerate destinations and act as a catalyst for the global economic recovery.

The WTTC  said its research showed that every 2.7% increase in travellers would generate or recover one million jobs in the sector, and believes that coordination between European governments could result in an increase of up to 27%.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and chief executive, said: “WTTC calls on all European heads of state to unite for the benefit of the millions of people who depend on this sector in Europe; both travellers and workers.

“It is urgent that governments learn from the past and take quick and effective action to coordinate and harmonise travel rules and border requirements to bring consistency for everyone across Europe. Previous crises, including the 2008 financial crash, shows where governments coordinate to align policies, their leadership resulted in a quicker recovery.”

She added: “We are encouraged to see that more travellers are spending time searching for holiday destinations across Europe following the easing of travel restrictions. Unfortunately, the lack of coordination among countries has created inconsistencies which means we are failing to rebuild the trust of potential travellers.

“Anyone travelling from one European country to the next faces a bewildering difference in travel advice, covering masks, testing and contact tracing which could seriously hinder the return of the travel & tourism sector.”

Guevara said: “This climate of uncertainty for travellers and holidaymakers is the last thing they need at a time when the sector is crying out for consistency. The restoration of consumer confidence, during the most important season of the year in one of the world’s largest regions for travel & tourism cannot be understated.”