Global travel bookings surpass pre-pandemic levels

Global travel bookings surpass pre-pandemic levels

A Mastercard Economics Institute report shows both leisure and business travel have bounced back

According to a new report from Mastercard Economics Institute, global leisure and business flight bookings have surpassed pre-pandemic levels, while spending on cruise lines and trains has seen a sharp improvements in 2022.

The ‘Travel 2022: Trends and Transitions’ report delivers critical insight into the global post-pandemic state of travel across 37 markets.

It draws on publicly available travel data, as well as aggregated and anonymous sales activity in the Mastercard network. Here are some of the key findings:

  • The report shows that leisure and business flights have surpassed pre-pandemic levels. At the end of April 2022, global leisure flight bookings surpassed 2019 levels by 25% and  short- and medium-haul leisure flight bookings were up 25% and 27%, respectively.
  • Global business flight bookings also exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first time in March 2022, with long-haul bookings growing by double-digits in April. The return to working in the office was an important driver to this trend.
  • If flight booking trends continue at their current pace, an estimated 115 million more passengers in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa will fly in 2022 compared to 2021.

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  • Business travel in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa is returning at a much slower pace. Short-haul bookings led the recovery, exceeding 2019 levels in March 2022, but medium-haul and domestic bookings remain 16% and 40% below 2019 levels, respectively, as of April 2022.
  • Domestic travel is still the preferred travel itinerary for consumers in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, although the recovery has been haphazard. Domestic bookings surged and doubled pre-pandemic levels at the end of November 2020, collapsed in January 2021, jumped to more than 20% above pre-pandemic levels in February 2021, and collapsed again in mid-2021 before staging a more steady and sustained recovery. Bookings for domestic travel began to exceed pre-pandemic levels from February 2022.
  • Internationally, the UK is currently the top destination for travellers from Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. Bookings increased, in part, as a result of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
  • Globally, the US, the UK, Switzerland, Spain and The Netherlands are now the top five destinations for tourists.


Commenting on the findings, Mastercard chief economist and head of the Mastercard Economics Institute Bricklin Dwyer said: “Like any flight, the travel recovery has faced both headwinds and tailwinds. As the ‘Great Rebalancing’ takes place around the world, this mobility is critical to a return to pre-pandemic life. 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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