Pent-up demand for holidays is increasing across Europe as vaccination programmes are deployed across the continent, says new research.

“Despite the continuous lockdowns and advice to avoid non-essential trips, Europeans’ travel sentiment maintains an upward trajectory, with 54% of respondents planning to travel within the next six months either domestically or to another European country,” said a survey by the European Travel Commission, which represents tourist boards.

Its latest figures showed the sentiment for travel increased from 52% in late November-early December to 54% in late December-early January.

The ETC said Europeans are pinning their hopes on “early summer vacations to beat the lockdown fatigue”.

The survey of more than 5,000 Europeans shows that more than a third of Europeans (34%) are optimistic about taking their next trip between May-July 2021 – and travellers from the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria are most enthusiastic about planning a coastal getaway.

Confidence in air travel also continues to gradually improve, as the share of Europeans planning to take a flight has progressively increased from 49% in September 2020 to 54% in January 2021, while the percentage of those having health concerns about flying has fallen from 20% to 16%.

Covid-19 vaccines remain one of the “top drivers”, as 11% of those polled indicated that the effective vaccination campaign would play a significant role in their decision to travel again, along with destinations’ effectiveness in managing the health crisis (11%) and testing before departure (10%).

Following the introduction of stricter travel rules across Europe, the possibility of getting quarantined and the rising Covid-19 cases in destinations are now of equal concern (15%). Meanwhile, most respondents (69%) agreed that they will feel safer and more relaxed if destinations have strict health and safety protocols in place.

A fifth (21%) of respondents say that the protocols may to some extent spoil the travel experience.