Rising air fares are not dampening passenger demand for international air travel, while city breaks are lagging beach holidays in the popularity stakes as tourism continues to recover, new research shows.
Global air travel is on course to recover to 65% of the levels it was at in 2019, before the pandemic decimated international tourism, according to the data produced by insights and analysis company ForwardKeys for the World Travel Market (WTM).
The recovery is likely to be most noticeable between now and the end of September; although ForwardKeys said the revival will be “patchy”, with some regions performing better than others.
In addition, beach holidays are currently proving more popular than city breaks and sightseeing attractions.
In terms of regional recovery, Africa and the Middle East are set to return to pre-Covid levels of performance the quickest; followed by the Americas and then Europe and Asia-Pacific.
Antalya, in Turkey, leads the way in terms of summer 2022 beach demand; followed by Tirana and Mikonos.
Naples, Istanbul, Athens and Lisbon are the leading city break destinations. But, while all the beach destinations are up on 2019 comparisons, only Naples – among the city destinations – has improved its pre-Covid comparison.
Another positive trend is that while American travellers are not, generally, staying as long at their destination – and spending as much money – than they did during the pandemic; they are planning to stay longer and spend more than they did in pre-Covid times in 2019.
The average planned length of stay, this quarter, is 12 days, up from 11 days in 2019. Last year, it was 16 days, but fewer people with a more affluent profile were travelling then.
The proportion of people flying in premium cabin classes, this summer, is also set to rise, from 12% in 2019 to 15% this year.
In terms of air fares, average prices for US-Europe flights jumped by over 35% between January and May, while booking rates remained buoyant and showed no slowdown.
That said, however, short-haul/domestic US flight routes saw average fare increases of 47% during the same period and demand for such routes peaked in March.
“With 2022 seeing travel restrictions lifted, connectivity re-established, and consumer confidence regained, demand for international travel is on the rise once more, marking a departure from the domestic travel trend that dominated in recent years,” said Olivier Ponti, vice-president of insights at ForwardKeys.
“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,” he said.