WTTC and Trip.com monitor booking trends

LONDON, 29 November 2021: The World Travel & Tourism Council and Trip.com Group have launched ‘Trending in Travel’, a new report that provides an outlook on the shift in traveller behaviour and future booking trends in the wake of Covid-19.

WTTC, which represents the global travel & tourism private sector, joined forces with the global travel service provider Trip.com Group and its major consumer brands that include Trip.com, Ctrip and Skyscanner, to analyse consumer trends shaping the recovery of the travel & tourism sector.

WTTC’s latest projections show strong growth in international spending for 2022 and beyond, projected to overtake domestic spending in 2022, as more destinations around the world ease restrictions and as vaccination rates continue to rise.

Following a 69.4% decline in 2020, global international spending is set to rise by 9.3% in 2021 and significantly by 93.8% in 2022.

The inaugural report also reveals how severe and inconsistent travel restrictions around the world have resulted in a significant rise in domestic tourism, with a surge in domestic hotel bookings by more than 200% on Trip.com’s platform this year compared to 2019.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, continued mobility restrictions have hindered international travel and, although domestic travel will provide a much-needed boost to the sector, WTTC says the return of international travel is critical to rebooting the global economy.

The report focuses on booking trends, consumer considerations, and consumer profiles and also features examples of markets whose resilience has provided a platform for the recovery of the Travel & Tourism sector.

The report shows how Covid-19 has changed the way people travel, from younger generations being the first to return to travel to increased demand for longer stays, the importance of fee-free cancellations, and enhanced health and safety protocols.

Due to ongoing travel restrictions, travellers are increasingly seeking secondary destinations as their destination of choice. According to Trip.com’s hotel booking data, Abu Dhabi (UAE), Chiang Mai (Thailand), Doha (Qatar), Florence (Italy), and Frankfurt (Germany) were the most popular secondary destinations in their respective countries in 2021.

The report goes on to show that, according to Ctrip data, bookings for the great outdoors will predominate in the short and medium-term, for example, in China – one of the world’s largest travel markets – nature-related attraction bookings have increased by 265% in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.

The pause in travel has also heightened consumers’ eagerness to travel more sustainably, with more than eight in 10 (83%) of global travellers saying they would make sustainable travel a priority in the future.

Reinforcing this long-term trend, since its launch in 2019, the report shows 68 million travellers have opted to book a “Greener Choice” labelled flight on Skyscanner, a comparatively lower-carbon flight choice.

According to the report, 70% of travellers in many major countries such as the U.S., 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 travel & tourism.

WTTC president & CEO Julia Simpson said: “It is clear that the wanderlust for travel remains. After almost two years without being able to travel freely, consumers are eager to explore, but they are aware of the impact their travel habits have on the world, and their preferences, needs and demands have changed.

“As the Travel & Tourism sector adapts to these emerging trends, sustainability must remain front and centre of everything we do.”

Trip.com Group CEO Jane Sun added: “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 adapts to emerging trends.”

The latest WTTC research shows the global recovery of the Travel & Tourism sector is picking up pace, with the sector’s contribution to global GDP projected to rise by 30.7% in 2021 and 31.7% in 2022. 

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