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Summer air travel outlook ‘could be less than 23% of pre-pandemic levels’

The outlook for international air travel this summer is set to be just under a quarter (23%) of pre-pandemic levels, according to flight data firm ForwardKeys.

Europe looks set for another disappointing summer, with the strongest source markets for travel to Mediterranean destinations are Germany, France and the US, where current outbound bookings stand at 37%, 42% and 24% of 2019 levels respectively.

ForwardKeys insights vice president Olivier Ponti warned: “It is now clear that for most of the world, a summer holiday abroad is a dream; and a staycation is the reality.

“Travel businesses in general, and airlines in particular, will face more substantial losses, as many countries combat Covid-19 by closing their borders and imposing severe restrictions on flying internationally.

“However, certain destinations, particularly in Central America and the Caribbean, which are highly dependent on tourism, are taking an alternative approach.”

Meanwhile, vaccine rollouts globally are driving increasing demand for summer holidays, latest TripAdvisor data shows.

Vaccinated travellers are more likely to stay longer and spend more on their trips than those who have not been jabbed.

Travellers from the UK and the US, where vaccinations have already reached large swathes of the adult population, are pushing the tourism recovery forward, according to the findings.

But countries where the vaccine rollout is at a less advanced stage and new variants of Covid-19 have impacted local populations – particularly across the Asia-Pacific region – are seeing a slower recovery in leisure travel demand.

“By requiring vaccination and/or proof of negative Covid-19 tests, they are showing the world that it is possible to have a summer season.”

TripAdvisor chief executive and co-founder Stephen Kaufer said: “If ever we needed proof that vaccines are the key to long-term recovery in the tourism sector, our latest trend data provides it.

“Now the focus must be on governments and international organisations to ensure vaccines reach every part of the world as quickly as possible and make it as easy as possible for vaccinated tourists to travel globally once again.”

Head of market research Christopher Hsi added: “After such a turbulent year, many in tourism are hopeful that a busy summer will provide a much-needed boost to the tourism industry, so it’s welcome news to see the latest traveller data pointing in that direction, especially for destinations and hospitality businesses that are able to capture the growing demand for domestic travel.

“What offers even greater hope for a long-term recovery is the impact the vaccine is having not just on people’s confidence to travel, but also their willingness to turn planning into bookings.

“As more and more countries make progress on the rollout of the vaccine, and the positive impact that should have on the re-opening of international borders, there is every reason to expect further growth in traveller demand will come.”

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