Flight bookings bounce back in pandemic recovery

A major increase in global international flight bookings has been forecast as worldwide travel resumes following the pandemic.

The booking bounce back from the Covid crisis was revealed at the World Travel & Tourism Council’s global summit in Manila.

Destinations such as the Caribbean and Latin America are leading international inbound bookings, according to data firm ForwardKeys.

Countries leading the ranking of top 20 best performing destinations for the summer are Costa Rica, Aruba, Dominican Republic and Jamaica, all of which rely heavily upon international travel.

 These destinations are seeing bookings already surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

Further evidence of the resurgence in travel is shown in arrivals in Europe, with a 350% surge in international arrivals in the first three months of 2022 compared to the same period last year.

Asia-Pacific countries also saw an increase in arrivals, with bookings for the region up 275% year-on-year.

Further acceleration of the continuing recovery is continuing in the current quarter with a 264% rise on the year before.

Countries in Europe such as Iceland, Greece, Portugal, Spain and France are showing a strong resurgence with travel bookings just slightly behind pre-pandemic levels.

The industry’s gradual recovery was “significantly slowed” by the surge in Omicron cases, however, the future is looking brighter for 2022 with positive booking data worldwide.

WTTC president and chief executive Julia Simpson said: “WTTC 2022 booking data from ForwardKeys is a firm signal of the strong recovery of the global travel and tourism sector.

“Travel to the Asia-Pacific region shows impressive signs of improvement as destinations gradually reopen their borders to visitors, in line with customer demand.”

Speaking at the summit, she cited the EU green card as a potential model for “integrating travellers’ health status into their digital travel documents” to create “seamless” travel that would reduce delays and the complexity of checks in different countries.

The EU’s green card, which has been adopted by 62 countries including the UK, US, Australia and India, is one of four main schemes currently operating.

Simpson said: “We need to find a single system for the world.”

She added: “It may be difficult for them all to adopt each others’ systems, but what they could adopt is a platform that interfaces between the four main systems and your digital phone so all customers have one end-to-end seamless journey. That is what we are campaigning for.”

ForwardKeys insights vice president Olivier Ponti said: “It is very encouraging that Asia has finally begun re-opening, which is driving the return of both travel to Asia and within the region, both of which are clearly going to be instrumental in driving the global economic recovery.”

Figures for the first half of the year are showing triple-digit growth for flight bookings around the world, compared to last year, including the Americas, Europe, and Asia, with heightened demand for premium cabin classes following the loosening of travel restrictions.

Other trends seen include stronger last-minute bookings.

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