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Travel’s Ascent Toward Recovery

The desire to travel is strong, and consumer and commercial demand for air travel, measured by flight bookings, accelerated meaningfully in early 2022. Could this be the start of travel’s long-awaited recovery?

After over two years of restrictions on where to travel, people are booking new and different itineraries. The Mastercard Economics Institute’s third-annual travel report reveals several significant travel recovery trends, including:

  • Today’s Traveler: For the first time since the pandemic, business flight bookings have exceeded 2019 levels, a key milestone in the recovery.1

  • Top destinations: Destinations are evolving as people have started booking travel farther from home. Long-haul leisure travel, shot up to just -7% below pre-pandemic levels by the end of April.2

  • Modes of travel: Throughout 2021, traveling by car was the preferred mode of transportation but now buses, cruises and trains are seeing an uptick in bookings.

  • Consumer spending while traveling: Travelers are returning to spending on experiences over things. Travel budgets have shifted toward restaurants, bars and recreational activities.

“If flight bookings continue at their current pace, an estimated 1.5 billion more passengers globally will fly in 2022 compared to last year.”3

Get access to Travel 2022: Trends & Transitions to learn more about the current state of travel around the globe and where it’s headed.

1Corresponds with the number of flight bookings made by business travelers in April 2022 relative to the same time in 2019. Based on aggregated & anonymized flight booking data provided by third party partners, sourced by Mastercard Economics Institute.
2Corresponds with the number of flight bookings made by leisure travelers during reference period relative to the same time in 2019. Based on aggregated & anonymized flight booking data provided by third party partners, sourced by Mastercard Economics Institute. Long-haul flights correspond with international flights 4,300km+ in one-way distance.
Based on Mastercard Economics Institute estimates of global IATA passenger throughput data.

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