One in five countries approach pre-pandemic domestic flight levels while international travel lags behind

Friday, Jul 02, 2021 21:00

An aircraft of Vietnam Airlines lands in Noi Bai International Airport, Ha Noi. Viet Nam's aviation market is expected to recover in the third quarter of 2021 — Photo

After flights were largely grounded and travellers stayed home in 2020, the return to travel has become one of the most anticipated and uncertain activities of 2021, according to Recovery Insights: Ready for Takeoff?, a Mastercard report on key travel trends.

The report said that while the global travel recovery remains uneven, one-fifth of countries studied have returned to at least 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels for domestic flight bookings; with Australia surpassing the global average with bookings at 116 per cent.

“Although many markets in Asia Pacific are yet to see international borders open, there are some early bright spots in domestic travel recovery,” said David Mann, chief economist, AP & MEA of the Mastercard Economics Institute. "As travel corridors continue to open and flourish across the US and Europe, Mastercard believes the pent-up demand in Asia Pacific, exacerbated by extended lockdowns, will follow a similar trajectory in both business and leisure travel, as the region cautiously re-opens its borders.”

The report’s key findings include: Business travel lags behind leisure travel by approximately four months globally. Business travel is showing recovery signs worldwide, with Australian domestic business travel bookings at nearly 80 per cent of pre-COVID levels, and US domestic business travel back up to just over half of its 2019 average level.

Globally fuel spending is up 13 per cent from its previous peak in 2019. Road trips—the big trend of 2020—are still holding their course. The report shows a robust demand for domestic ground travel, with fuel spending up in Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Australia, where areas such as Margaret River and Dunsborough are seeing a swell in local visitors.

With border closures still in place, pent-up savings are helping to drive sales across a variety of categories. For instance, sales at toupee and wigs stores have increased 81 per cent in Australia in the past year, compared to pre-pandemic, and sales for beauty salons and luggage stores are also up. Meanwhile, spending at boat dealers (+30 per cent) and bike stores (+62 per cent) grew across the world, as pent-up demand collided with greater savings due to fiscal stimulus and travel restrictions.

Mastercard launched Recovery Insights to help businesses and governments better manage the economic risks presented by COVID-19. Through this initiative, Mastercard has provided data-driven insights, analytics and other services to businesses and governments to help them understand ever-changing consumer spending trends and how to address them. — VNS

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