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Vaccine promise levels out traveller confidence globally

By Mike Ford, Founder and Managing Director at SiteMinder


This same time last year, Asia dominated Euromonitor International’s annual list of the top 100 city destinations in the world, contributing 12 of the top 20 city destinations by arrivals and five of the top ten. Fast forward one year and the findings from the World Hotel Index, by country, tell us a not-so-dissimilar story.

Asia now accounts for four of the 10 countries leading the world in year-on-year hotel bookings – and two of the three countries that have surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Indeed, over the past month, we saw year-on-year hotel booking performance in the Maldives and Taiwan rise to 122% and 110%, respectively, to lead the world alongside the United Arab Emirates where hotel bookings currently sit at 116% YoY.

Nearby, in the Pacific, Australia also features among the world’s top 10 countries by hotel booking performance after its second-largest city of Melbourne brought new coronavirus cases down to zero and lifted a stage 4 lockdown.

None of this will be surprising to those of you who have been following the movements within the World Hotel Index. In fact, we reported on the signs of the Asia Pacific’s leadership as early as April. As recently as September, we commented on the stark difference between the Asia Pacific’s cautious approach to travel and Europe’s rapid reopenings.

So, what’s the real change to report today?

Hotel bookings globally see marginal uptick

In the last two weeks, the world rejoiced over news that a promising coronavirus vaccine could be on its way. And, with that news, in spite of the continued waves of coronavirus around the world, year-on-year hotel bookings globally rose by nearly four percentage points for the first time since entering the stage of flux on 27 September.

The marginal rise was driven by growth in Europe. In fact, in spite of being in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus, Europe contributed half of this week’s 10 fastest risers, including:

  • Iceland: from 13.9% YoY to 20.99% YoY (51.01% WoW)
  • UK: from 19.81% YoY to 26.32% YoY (32.86% WoW)
  • Ireland: from 24.59% YoY to 32.49% YoY (32.13% WoW)
  • Czech Republic: from 10.3% YoY to 13.23% YoY (28.45% WoW)
  • Netherlands: from 22.89% YoY to 27.43% YoY (19.83% WoW).

Traveller confidence is bouncing back faster

Over the coming year, hotel bookings are now highest over the Christmas and New Year’s Eve period, in the vast majority of the fast-rising countries in Europe, as well as Germany, Spain and France. This is not a trend we saw in September, when the emerging spike in bookings was for the summer months next year. Along with hope for a quicker lockdown this second time round, what it indicates is newfound traveller confidence and a yearning to welcome a new year, not only from Europe, but the Asia Pacific and across the globe, in countries that include South Africa, Morocco, Canada, Mexico and Barbados.

As we count the remaining days of 2020, we now see more travel bubbles emerging, including Singapore and Hong Kong’s which will take effect in a few days and has likely been behind the 9% rise in Singapore’s hotel booking momentum over the past week.

Will we see further acceleration? We’ll find out next month, as I share my final update for 2020. Join me then.

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