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Global bookings more than double April’s YoY volume

By Mike Ford, Founder and Managing Director at SiteMinder


When the World Hotel Index launched on 29 April, every hotelier in nearly every corner of the world was confronted by perhaps the only line they wished would curve upwards rather than continue to flatten. The global booking volume at the time was 10.70% of what it was just a year prior, and almost every sign indicated there would be a lack of positive movement for months to come. It seemed inconceivable that 10.70% would more than double four weeks later and yet here we are, cautiously observing a read of 24.49% in global booking momentum… and counting.

Rewind to February: while the world remained mostly oblivious to the impending impact of COVID-19, the alarm bells were being heard clearly in Iceland. The country was already testing for coronavirus—before its first case—and by the end of the month, had declared a state of emergency that triggered aggressive contact-tracing and quarantine. The quick action has been credited for containing the spread of the virus and, in mid-May, Iceland’s prime minister announced plans to reopen the country’s borders to tourists by 15 June. It’s been said that ‘COVID-free’ is the new five-star rating, and the prime minister’s announcement could be evidence of that theory. In the last two weeks, Iceland’s hotel bookings have doubled from 12.85% of 2019 levels to 27.64%, and overtaken the global average.

Only New Zealand surpassed Iceland as the top high riser this past week. Hotel bookings within the Pacific nation have gone from strength-to-strength since lockdown began lifting earlier this month, and now sit at over half (52.59%) of last year’s booking levels. They rose 12.04% in the last week, alone, and will likely accelerate further if plans proceed to allow Australian visitors from 1 July. Speaking of Australia, it’s rising steadily, with hotel booking volumes now well above the global average, at 33.95% YoY.

Behind Iceland’s WoW growth is Norway’s. The fellow Nordic country surpassed the global average on 10 May and has since jumped to 30.96% of 2019 levels, cementing its place beside Germany, Iceland and the Netherlands as one of Europe’s few markets outperforming the global average.

Could Portugal be the first southern European country to re-emerge from the pandemic? Beachgoers took their first dip this past week, after the government announced a phased lifting of lockdown restrictions, and a jump in hotel bookings mirrors their excitement. In two weeks, they’ve surged from 7.58% of last year’s levels to 20.89%. Incredibly, the volume of hotel bookings in neighbouring Spain—which has reported the fourth highest number of coronavirus cases in the world—has also doubled from 9.02% to 18.17% YoY this past week, after the country’s government declared quarantine restrictions would lift this summer and urged international holidaymakers to return.

For the fourth consecutive week, Taiwan’s hotel bookings have continued to rise, now sitting at 76.61% of 2019 levels and leading the world in booking momentum. While the country-wide volume in the US remains slow to increase, Miami’s has lifted 6.70% in the past week and Tampa’s now exceeds last year’s volume at 125.04%.

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