Global air travel is set to reach 65% of pre-pandemic levels this summer

The global air travel is set to reach 65% of pre-pandemic levels this summer, according to the summer Travel Outlook Report 2022 produced by World Travel Market London (WTM) and analytics firm ForwardKeys.

The summer report reveals that the current enthusiasm to travel overseas is so strong that a rise in air fares has done relatively little to dampen demand. For example, the average fare from the US to Europe climbed by more than 35% between January and May with no noticeable slowing in booking rates.

The report also reveals that Europe has seen the biggest tourism recovery, recording an improvement of 16 percentage points, and is now reporting the highest overall tourist arrival volumes. The European region also illustrates the widespread trend of beach destinations recovering more quickly than their urban counterparts.

The continuing revival of leisure travel around the globe during the third quarter of this year (July, August and September) sets the stage for World Travel Market London – the foremost global event for the travel industry – taking place at ExCeL on 7-9 November 2022.

A second, end-of-year Travel Outlook Report will be published during World Travel Market London, giving delegates the latest trends and detailed forecasts based on bookings from airlines and travel agencies.

Africa and the Middle East are the regions on course to recover most strongly, with Q3 arrivals expected to reach 83% of 2019 levels. It is followed by the Americas, where summer arrivals are expected to reach 76%, Europe (71%) and Asia Pacific (35%).

The impressive rebound of summer destinations such as Antalya (Turkey; +81%), Mykonos and Rhodes (both Greece; both +29%) is partly attributable to early reopening and the proactive communication of their countries. Greece was among the first European nations to reopen to non-essential travel and has been clear and consistent in its messaging throughout the pandemic.

It is interesting to note that the urban destinations with the best rates of recovery – Naples (Italy; +5%), Istanbul (Turkey; 0%), Athens (Greece; -5%) and Lisbon (Portugal; -8%) – are gateways to nearby sun and beach resorts.

The relatively promising outlook for summer travel to Africa and the Middle East is thanks to several factors. Many Middle Eastern airports are hubs for travel between Asia Pacific and Europe, so the Middle East is benefiting from the revival of intercontinental travel, particularly driven by people returning to Asian countries to visit friends and relatives.

The two countries leading Africa’s summer travel recovery, Nigeria (+14%) and Ghana (+8%), are not on the traditional tourist map, but they do have significant diasporas in Europe and North America.

The strong performance of these nations can be attributed to pent-up demand from expatriates to visit friends and relatives back home.

However, travel to and within the Asia Pacific region is recovering more slowly, because of stricter Covid-19 travel restrictions remaining in force for longer.

Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director at World Travel Market London, said that this very encouraging to see the results of the Travel Outlook Report and how markets around the world are recovering this summer. It will be interesting to see how these findings develop by winter and they look forward to welcoming ForwardKeys to present the next installation of this exclusive research at World Travel Market in November.

These reports are based on robust data, from airlines and travel agencies, giving industry executives clear insights about which regions and which sectors are bouncing back strongly – as well as information about post-pandemic trends and consumer behaviour. World Travel Market London will provide a platform for experts from around the world to debate the key issues affecting the travel trade – and provide an unparalleled opportunity to build those important business connections for 2023 and beyond.’

Olivier Ponti, VP Insights at ForwardKeys, said that with 2022 seeing travel restrictions lifted, connectivity re-established, and consumer confidence regained, demand for international travel is on the rise once more. In Q3 this year, holidaymakers are relatively much keener to leave the pandemic behind with a relaxing break on the beach than they are to consume culture, cities and sightseeing.

The impact of the pandemic has meant that long-established travel trends are evolving. As we gradually regain normality, new patterns emerge and reliable, real-time data is needed to make sense of them. This is essential for discovering new markets and opportunities.

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