Full recovery of international travel is expected by 2025
International departures will reach 68% of the pre-Covid-19 levels globally in 2022 and are expected to improve to 82% in 2023 and 97% in 2024, before making a full recovery by 2025 at 101% of 2019 levels, with a projected 1.5 billion international departures.
The trajectory for the recovery in international departures is not linear across regions, says GlobalData, the data and analytics company that compiled the data.
Hannah Free, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, said: “International travel from North America had shown improvement in 2021 as international departures grew by 15% year-on-year. The US rose to become the world’s largest outbound travel market in 2021.
“In 2022, outbound departures from North America are projected to reach 69% of 2019 levels, before making a full recovery by 2024, at 102% of 2019 levels, ahead of other regions.”
International departures from European countries are also expected to reach 69% of 2019 figures in 2022, and as travel confidence rebuilds, the intra-European market is expected to benefit, driven by preferences for short-haul travel.
Factors that could impede travel recovery
While the ravages of the pandemic finally begin to retreat, travel recovery could be impacted by inflation, rising costs of living and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Russia was the world’s fifth largest outbound travel market in 2019, and Ukraine was the 12th. Going forward, limited outbound travel from these countries will hinder Europe’s overall tourism recovery.
Asia-Pacific is expected to lag in terms of recovery. Outbound departures from the region will only reach 67% of 2019 levels in 2022, owing to the relatively slower removal of travel restrictions, and the propensity for renewed domestic restrictions during Covid-19 outbreaks.
Once the region’s and the world’s largest outbound travel market, China is not showing any signs of relaxing its strict border measures in the short-term. In 2021, international departures from China were just 2% of 2019 levels.
Post-pandemic Consumer Travel Trends
“While global international travel is set to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2025, tourism demand may look quite different. From two years of very limited travel, several long-term shifts and short-term trends have emerged,” said Free, who sites four emerging travel trends.
1. The pursuit of authentic experiences
2. Increased demand for personalised travel offerings
3. Bleisure trips, mixing business and leisure travel
4. More conscious environmentally-friendly travel
5. Short-haul travel over long-haul trips, which will be seen to carry greater risk in the event of borders closing again for any reason
Free concludes that there’s still a long way to go to reach the ‘new normal’, but adds that “potential full recovery by 2025 at the latest gives good reason for the travel and tourism industry to be optimistic for the future”.