With 2021 ending, many are wondering what to expect of the New Year as the Omicron variant breaks news headlines around the world. The team of analysts at ForwardKeys, step back to examine some of the key learnings as they review 2021 from the perspective of a travel professional, highlighting the key travel trends.
1.US Leisure travel drives recovery, not China
In a year where much-anticipated travel recovery was being scrutinized by government officials to investors and luck-less travelers, the strength of the US leisure market took many by surprise.
A comparison of the world’s top destination cities, before the pandemic in 2019, and throughout 2021, illustrates the strong trend towards leisure travel leading to the recovery.
Several major cities have been pushed down or out of the top 20 rankings, whereas major leisure destinations, particularly for US holidaymakers, have climbed high.
While Dubai remains at the top of the list (it is a major leisure destination as well as a substantial travel and commerce hub), the most notable rises include, Miami, from 18th to 5th, Madrid from 16th to 10th, and new into the list.
2. Major European airlines struggle disproportionately
Largely due to the travel trend towards domestic travel in large-sized countries, airlines in those markets have managed to weather the COVID-19 storm better than carriers whose business has been more oriented towards short-haul international travel.
This is illustrated by an analysis of the top 20 airlines in 2021 compared to 2019. The major European carriers have all fallen or are out of the ranking.
They have been replaced by airlines that have substantial business in China and the US, which have been better able to maintain capacity.