Global international spending on travel is set to rise by 9.3% this year and by 93.8% in 2022 following a 69.4% slump as the pandemic hit in 2020.
The projection comes in a new report into latest traveller trends and future booking patterns in the wake of Covid-19.
The World Travel and Tourism Council study with Trip.com suggests strong growth in international spending for 2022 and beyond, projected to overtake domestic spending next year as more destinations ease restrictions and vaccination rates continue to rise.
As many as 70% of travellers in many major countries such as the US, Spain, the UK, Canada and Japan plan to spend more on travel in 2022 than they have in the last five years, including 2019 – one of the best years on record for the sector.
Younger travellers are the first to return to travel, while there is increased demand for longer stays.
The importance of fee-free cancellations is highlighted as well as demand for high levels of health and safety checks.
The pause in travel has also heightened consumers’ eagerness to travel more sustainably with more than eight out of 10 (83%) global travellers saying they would make sustainable travel a priority in the future.
The report reveals that bookings for ‘the great outdoors’ will predominate in the short and medium term.
Travellers are seeking secondary destinations, away from traditional holiday spots, to avoid travel restrictions.
According to Trip.com’s hotel booking data, Abu Dhabi, Chiang Mai, Doha, Florence and Frankfurt were the most popular secondary destinations in their respective countries this year.
Trip.com Group data shows London remains to be one of the most searched international destinations in 2021, along with Madrid, Nice, Berlin and Rome.
But “severe and confusing” travel restrictions around the world drove a significant rise in domestic tourism during the pandemic.
This trend was particularly visible in Europe, seeing domestic hotel bookings soar to double digit growth in 2020 compared to 2019.
A surge in domestic hotel bookings of more than 200% was registered on Trip.com’s platform this year compared to 2019.
Although domestic travel will provide a much-needed boost to the sector, the return of international travel is critical to rebooting the global economy, according to the WTTC.
President Julia Simpson said: “It is clear people are really looking forward to travelling again. Consumers are curious, they are looking at new destinations, ‘the great outdoors’ and travel which benefits the places and people they visit.
“As travel and tourism represents over 10% of global GDP this is good news for jobs and economies.
“The impact in some countries has been devastating for local communities and this report shows that business is returning in earnest.”
Trip.com Group chief executive Jane Sun said: “Travellers around the world have shown their eagerness to travel, whether limited to domestic travel or able to cross borders, we see a huge amount of pent-up demand steadily being released.
“To better evolve with the recovery we must understand travellers, and as an industry adapt to emerging trends.”