A new study by Mastercard Economics Institute finds pent-up demand for travel combined with the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions have driven global leisure and business flight bookings past 2019 levels.
The report says by the end of April, global leisure flight bookings surpassed 2019 levels by 25% and short- and medium-haul leisure flight bookings were up 25% and 27%, respectively.
The study also says global business flight bookings, driven by a return to the office, exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first time in March, with long-haul specifically growing double-digits in April.
In terms of group travel, global spending on cruises were up 62% from January to the end of April, but still remains below 2019 levels, while bus travel is back at pre-pandemic levels but passenger rail travel remains 7% below.
Car road trips were also up with spending on tolls and auto rentals up nearly 19% and 12%, respectively.
The report says experiential spending in destinations is now 34% above 2019 levels, bar and nightclub spending is up the most at 72%, and visits to amusement parks, museums, concerts and other recreational activities has risen 35%.
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The U.S., The U.K, Switzerland, Spain, The Netherlands, Mexico, Italy, Germany, France and Canada are now the Top 10 international destinations for tourists globally.
Mastercard Economics Institute says if flight booking trends continue at the current pace, an estimated 1.5 billion more passengers globally will fly in 2022 compared to last year.
“As the ‘Great Rebalancing’ takes place around the world, this mobility is critical to a return to pre-pandemic life,” Bricklin Dwyer, Mastercard chief economist and head of the Mastercard Economics Institute, said in a statement.
“The resilience of the consumer to return to ‘normal’ and make up for lost time gives us optimism that the recovery will continue directionally, even if there are bumps along the way.”
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