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Global momentum above 12% of 2019 levels for the first time since March

By Mike Ford, Founder and Managing Director at SiteMinder


After declining steeply from late February to mid-March and then plateauing for almost a month thereafter, booking momentum at a global level has picked up marginally in the last two weeks. While marginal, it is the first incremental rise we have witnessed since March, to take global booking volume to above 12% of 2019 levels for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indeed, global booking volume this year hit its lowest point in the second week of April, dropping to 8.85% year-over-year. It’s a stark reality to the peak levels that hotels would ordinarily see during the Easter season.

The slight uptick in global booking momentum in the last two weeks may be indicative of a growing confidence around the world, spurred by governments that have begun (rightly or wrongly) to signal near-term easing measures.

We can see the confidence rising especially in pockets throughout Asia Pacific.

In Taiwan and Hong Kong—two markets that avoided a lockdown by rapidly implementing public health measures—booking volumes rose to 53.3% and 53.09%, respectively, Sunday and they look to continue rising. Across South-East Asia, booking momentum remains below 10% with the exception of Vietnam, which saw its year-over-year booking volume surge to 21.53% over the weekend, ahead of Labour Day holidays and domestic flights resuming.

Further south, within the Pacific, Australia is currently faring best with booking volumes rising to as high as 14.8% of 2019 levels this past week, while New Zealand and Fiji saw levels peak at 8.14% and 4.73% respectively. Australia may have had the toughest start to the year between the three markets, having endured rampant bushfires immediately prior to the current crisis, but the differences between the neighbouring countries isn’t surprising. The imposed lockdowns in New Zealand have been strict, and let’s not forget that Australia and New Zealand comprise Fiji’s two largest inbound markets. For Fiji—a key part of the ‘trans-tasman bubble’—a growing confidence within its top two source markets will be vital to the restart of its economy.

The US is now the largest tourism market outside Asia Pacific to see its national booking volume rise to above 15% over the same period in 2019, albeit with significantly varying volumes between key cities. This past week, the booking momentum in New York City peaked at 5.86% while Tampa in Florida reverted to its 42.13% volume of mid-March.

Only time will tell when we will see notable glimpses of hope within the EMEA region, although Germany, Iceland, Ireland and Norway appear to be on the up ever-so-slowly. Sweden, in spite of avoiding a lockdown, continues to mirror the global booking momentum.

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