China’s decision to ditch its zero-Covid policy has triggered a surge in flight bookings, according to the latest data from ForwardKeys. And it’s the intra-regional neighbours in Asia who will reap the benefits the most. ForwardKeys China Market Analyst, Nan Dai, shared the latest figures in a joint webinar with Dragon Trail International and the consumer sentiment data aligned with the booking trends.
China’s decision to ditch its zero-Covid policy has triggered a surge in flight bookings, according to the latest data from ForwardKeys. On 7th December, Chinese authorities announced that a negative PCR test would no longer be required for air travel between provinces. Domestic flight bookings immediately surged 56% on the previous week and continued to increase 69% the following week. On 26th December, China removed all COVID-related restrictions on domestic air travel; and bookings surged again, reaching 50% of 2019’s level in the final week of the year.
Messaging regarding the recovery of the business travel segment has been mixed. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of the industry’s leading voices have claimed that business travel will never fully recover due to changing working habits – namely remote working and digital nomadism; company cost reduction; and a growing awareness of environmental issues.
After a bumpy road in travel recovery in the post-pandemic phase, it appears Africa can finally take a sigh of relief. ForwardKeys’ team of analysts have examined the latest air ticketing data in time for the MEADFA event in Bahrain and unearthed several gems. When looking at international arrivals for 2022, there is cause for optimism as Africa is performing comfortably above the global average.
An analysis by ForwardKeys, a knowledge partner of City Destinations Alliance (CityDNA), reveals at the Annual CEO Meeting of Capital and Major Cities by CityDNA, that the latest air ticketing data show European cities on track to recovery in Q4. While international travel recovery worldwide in Q4 tracks 30% below 2019 levels, the European continent overperforms the world average at -24%. This also represents an acceleration compared with the -30% registered in Europe in Q3.
At the World Travel Market in London this week ForwardKeys has announced the performance of the top global destinations of 2022 by publishing an annual Most Visited Destinations report that is available in hard copy at the event and to download at the bottom of this page. The top country list is headed by the Dominican Republic, and the top city list by Antalya in Turkey. Between 1st January and 18th October (the latest available air ticketing data), the Dominican Republic welcomed 5% more visitors than it did in 2019. It is followed by Turkey, Costa Rica, and Mexico, which all welcomed the same number of visitors.
European travel retail stands to benefit from the return of affluent American travellers to the continent, while the recovery of multi-destination trips is another positive development for the sector. The easing of entry requirements throughout Europe comes as a relief to the entire travel industry – not least the travel retail sector, which relies on the steady flow of wealthy travellers through airports. As a result of Europe’s reactivation, both intracontinental and long-haul inbound travel are recovering well.
In this alternative review of the summer 2022 travel season, Juan A. Gomez, Head of Market Intelligence at ForwardKeys, poses the question, “How would European travel recovery have evolved without the airport chaos and flight cancellations?” Following some setbacks at the beginning of the year – namely the emergence of the Omicron Covid variant and the escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian war – travel recovery in Europe appeared to be firmly on the right track heading into summer.
Air travel to the southeast corner of Europe substantially exceeded pre-pandemic (2019) levels in the peak summer months of July and August. The two largest destinations, Turkey and Greece, both exceeded pre-pandemic levels of international visitor arrivals by 9% and 2% respectively. Air travel to Albania (a relatively small destination with less than 1% market share of European flight arrivals) was also up by 28%. While no other major country destinations recovered to the numbers seen in 2019, Slovenia, just 7% down, Iceland, 8% down, and Portugal, 10% down, came close.
In recent weeks, news of airlines cancelling flights and images of long queues at European airports have dominated mainstream media, with many travellers reported having missed their flight due to lengthy delays even after check-in. To shed light on how bad the situation really is, ForwardKeys has taken a closer look at air traffic disruption by analysing recent cutbacks in capacity around the world.
As shared in a presentation on summer travel trends and tourism prospects for Spain delivered on the 30th of June by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism and ForwardKeys, confirmed bookings for travel to Spain in July and August point to “a summer like before the pandemic”, with the country having recovered nine in ten international bookings made in 2019.
The summer travel outlook report, produced for the World Travel Market (WTM) by ForwardKeys, reveals that in the third quarter of the year, July, August and September, global air travel is set to reach 65% of where it was before the pandemic in 2019. However, the revival is patchy, with some parts of the world doing much better than others and some types of travel, particularly beach holidays, being much more popular than urban city visits and sightseeing.
The latest data from ForwardKeys reveals that while Southeast Asia has been lagging far behind the rest of the world in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors from the USA are coming back in substantially greater numbers than from other origin markets. In the first five months of the year (1st January – 31st May), travel to Southeast Asia reached just 18% of pre-pandemic levels, whereas travel to Europe reached 55%, to the Americas 66% and to the Middle East & Africa 64%.
The latest air ticketing data from ForwardKeys reveals that Russian outbound tourism, already severely handicapped by pandemic travel restrictions, has fallen even further, because of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine. But affluent travellers are still flying, just not to Europe. In the week before the outbreak of war (w/c 18th Feb), outbound international air tickets from Russia stood at 42% of pre-pandemic levels; but in the week immediately after the invasion (w/c 25th Feb), issued air tickets fell to just 19%. Since then, flight bookings have sunk deeper still and have been hovering at around 15%.
As there is much talk about travel recovery around the world, first with the Americas leading in 2021 and again in 2022, the travel data experts at ForwardKeys are noticing the first taste of recovery in Africa and the Middle East. International arrivals to Africa and the Middle East in Q2 of 2022 are at -33% compared to 2019 levels, above the total international outbound average of -45% and just behind the leading recovery region, the Americas (-27%). Last year this figure was at -64%, so this is a marked improvement.
Like it or not, China keeps making the headlines since the advent of the pandemic in 2020, and it’s for all sorts of reasons. From Covid containment and the strict zero policy to the closure of outbound tourism to the unstoppable desire to shop and travel – even if it’s just to neighbouring Macau or Hainan. The latest news is the lockdown of one of China’s most important financial centres: Shanghai. And now local authorities are telling Beijing residents to stay put ahead of the famous May holiday. But is it really all doom and gloom for the travel economy?
As a Global Data Partner of the World Travel Market (WTM), the Head of Market Intelligence, Juan Gomez, has been invited to present at WTM LATAM this week in Sao Paulo on April 6 on the Travel Tech stage. Here are a few points the Head of Market Intelligence shall share in his presentation on the LATAM Travel Outlook for 2022 – to catch the whole presentation and live panel discussion with ProColombia and Emprotur Brazil, make sure you register to attend.
Spain is among the most sought-after destinations in the world by tourists for this Easter, as highlighted in the presentation of travel forecasts to Spain made last Friday, 1 April 2022 by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism and ForwardKeys, the leading global travel intelligence and data company. “The year 2022 has started with a sustained recovery in tourism, as shown by the data from the hotel occupancy survey with 24.1 million overnight stays between January and February, 72% of the pre-pandemic level, or the employment data recorded in February.
In its second public analysis since the outbreak of war, ForwardKeys compared flight bookings in the week following the invasion, 24th Feb – 2nd Mar, to the previous seven days. Excluding Ukraine and Moldova, which closed their air space, and Russia and Belarus, which were subjected to flight bans and safety warnings, the destinations worst affected were generally those closest to the conflict. Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia all saw a 30% – 50% collapse in bookings.
The latest data from ForwardKeys reveals that the Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted an instant spike in flight cancellations to and from Russia. On 25th February, the day after the start of the invasion, every booking that was made for travel to Russia was outweighed by six cancellations of pre-existing bookings. The source markets exhibiting the highest cancellation rates, in order of volume, were Germany 773%, France 472%, Italy 152%, the UK 254%, India 285% and Turkey 116%.