The year 2021 brought a breath of fresh air to the travel industry after the challenging times we had last year. A lot more of us are vaccinated today, even if we are still behind projections. Now we plan our vacations without having to stress about destination closures, new restrictions, and different governmental policies. Today, the numbers show that the 4th COVID wave carries much less significance and impact than the 3rd. One could optimistically say it even seems insignificant to the booking trends. Bookings are still coming in and the curve is steadily rising.
It's been 1.5 years since the arrival of the virus, wreaking havoc, limiting our freedom, affecting our businesses. This year, we no longer suffer such losses. We are more resilient and have learned to take better care of ourselves and our loved ones and use a combination of logic and good hygiene to stay safe.
The global economic situation has also begun to improve slightly. Rising vaccination rates have saved nations from going back into lockdown, and further economic ruin. And although pre-covid vacation season is over, people are still traveling, perhaps shaping new trends for our new norm.
September was another month of good fortune for the travel sector with another monthly average 8.5% increase in bookings. The global market rocketed to around 72% of the September 2019 volume, and in Germany, activity levels started to maintain even the 80% levels of August and September 2019. The slight slowdown that occurred in July 2021 was quickly made up for. It clearly shows that tourism recovery is not a temporary trend. The recovery is sustained and has become a solid reality, and we can safely say that the coming pandemic waves will no longer paralyze us.
In July, Germans spent their vacations mainly in Spain but also in Turkey, Greece, and local resorts. The holiday boom, combined with the relatively mild course of the fourth wave, encouraged travellers to choose foreign destinations boldly. However, it was reflected in an over 20% drop in interest in local resorts.
The high popularity of destinations in Greece, Spain and Egypt is worth noting, whose share of total bookings in ANIXE Resfinity IBE far exceeded 2019 demand. On the other hand, the USA and UK, which were among the most popular in September 2019, are at a low booking level and seem to be still affected by complex travel regulations.
Last summer has encouraged German travellers to make reservations at Spain's Palma Mallorca and Turkey's Analya and Istambul. Egypt's Hurghada and the Greek resorts of Rhodes and Heraklion were also highly-rated, but the most significant increase of interest was in the rather non-holiday region: Istanbul.
Despite its still high popularity, interest in trips to regions of Berlin and Munich was up to 20% lower than in August. In addition, the pandemic situation has marginalized popular August 2019 destinations like London, New York and Turkey's Izmir.
The four most popular destination cities in September 2021 for German travellers are Hurghada, Istambul, Side, Rome and Berlin. However, the latter, along with another German city, Hamburg, saw quite significant declines from a month earlier.
Compared to the situation two years ago, i.e. September 2019 - the most significant increase in holiday popularity was especially in Hurghada, Side and Rome. On the other hand, the most considerable decrease in share on Resfinity Booking Engine was in New York, London and... Prague.
Germans prefer trips of around a week in length. This situation has remained unchanged since May 2021, when there was a shift from the dominance of short trips. Moreover, this situation intensifies not only from month to month but especially when juxtaposed with the results of 2019.
Online meetings have replaced business travel - this is a fact of modern times, our new norm. Reality is visible in numbers compared to the same period in 2019, before the pandemic. The percentage of bookings of up to 3 days stay, which reigned supreme then, is now 25% lower on average and has given way too much longer leisure trips.
Data from ANIXE's Resfinity Platform shows that we felt a bit safer. Admittedly, it is still much less common to book trips more than one month in advance, which can be noticed from a 2-year perspective. However, we are more and more willing to reach for last-minute trips and those with a much longer time to departure.
The pandemic has changed recent trends by impacting group travel. Compared to September 2019, there are 10% fewer single-person bookings, although its number has increased significantly in the last month. On the other hand, the number of multi-pax bookings (5 pax and above) remains at the previous month's level, although its share is still 24% higher compared to September 2019.
ANIXE's market data shows that hotel meal is becoming increasingly popular again. Vaccines have given us a sense of security which, combined with the craving for relaxation, leads German tourists to choose AI (All-Inclusive), HB (Half Board) or at least BB (Bed and Breakfast) offers. It is also confirmed by comparing the September 2019 values, where the current share of rooms in RO (Room Only) and BB (Bed and Breakfast) options is 13% lower than in the pre-pandemic period.
As far as prices are concerned, after the high holiday season, prices globally started to decrease slightly (which cannot be said about the destinations favored by German tourists). Of course, they are at a slightly higher level than two years ago, but this can be explained by the effect of inflation and a higher average level of bookings, but also lack of short business trips, which usually significantly impacted the reduction of this indicator.
Last year's data and this year's direction, which has been consistently confirmed month after month, has clearly shown that the market is in a growth and recovery phase. We have reached the 70-80% scale known before the pandemic, a result we could only dream of a year ago.
Unfortunately, autumn and winter are ahead where we expect the intensity of the coronavirus to grow. Vaccination centers are empty, and most countries are reluctant to introduce zones and services only for vaccinated people. Will that change?
How will this affect pandemic expansion? How fast will the tourism sector continue to grow in autumn? Which countries and resorts will offer the best deals for winter tourists? We look forward to bring you more data and more insights.
Data origin: ANIXE Resfinity Booking Engine. (Complete report available at www.anixe.io). Data originated from the ANIXE Resfinity IBE system.