Caribbean and Mexico destinations enjoyed the strongest demand this summer, taking eight places in the world’s top-10 most-resilient destinations in the three months to September, according to travel industry data analyst ForwardKeys.
Only Heraklion in Greece and Antalya in Turkey made it into the top-10 based on strength of demand compared to the same period in 2019.
By contrast, six European destinations made the global top-10 most-resilient destinations in the same period two years ago when Palma de Mallorca topped the list. And the Caribbean and Mexico make up the entire top-10 destinations in the fourth quarter of this year, according to ForwardKeys data on forward bookings
However, ForwardKeys head of market intelligence Juan Gomez noted UK bookings to the Canary Islands for the week of the school half-term holiday have spiked, up 54% on the corresponding period in 2019.
Speaking at the Latin American Travel Association (LATA) Expo, Gomez said: “There are obvious signs of recovery in the Americas powered mainly by US travellers.
“The top-10 most resilient destinations for international travel look very much a Caribbean and Mexican affair.
“You may think this a standard pattern at this time of year. But most destinations in our 2019 ranking were urban metropolises powered by interest in cultural, shopping and luxury tourism.
“Cities are having a tough time bouncing back. London is proof of that. Travellers have a much stronger preference for beaches and wide open spaces than overcrowded streets, museums or shopping malls.”
Gomez noted global international bookings remained 68% down on 2019 during July to September and down 78% in the year to date.
He said: “The EU Digital Covid certificate helped to reactivate tourism in Europe. [But] Europe’s performance this summer was disappointing.
“The season could have been much better if the lessons from summer 2020 were learned. First, the [need for] communication from destinations about the rules so travellers could plan ahead and, second, the instability of travel restrictions over the summer – not only in destinations but also in origin markets.”
Gomez argued: “We saw very little of both which made international travel to and within Europe, and particularly the UK, a gamble and most people decided to stay close to home, which boosted domestic travel and trips to neighbouring countries.”
He noted: “British travellers have not been able to travel much internationally over the summer. But now restrictions are easing the release of pent up demand represents one of the biggest opportunities.
“The UAE’s removal from the UK ‘Red List’ saw bookings in both directions.
“We see big spikes in bookings for half term and at Christmas when it is expected ‘premium plus’ travel will exceed 2019 levels, pushing overall travel from London to Dubai close to pre-Covid-19 levels.”
Gomez also noted “a large peak around the UK half term holiday to the Canary Islands for which there are already 54% more confirmed bookings than at the same time in 2019 although the Canary Islands are suffering one of the worst volcano eruptions in over 40 years on the island of La Palma”.