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Global movement is returning: international hotel reservations near 50% of all trips

By Mike Ford, Founder and Managing Director at SiteMinder


For three consecutive months now, hotel bookings globally have remained above 60% of 2019 levels – and, unlike this same time last year, we are no longer looking at a world dominated entirely by domestic travel. Rather, as collective confidence grows, particularly through EMEA and parts of the Americas, we’re seeing international travel’s contribution to booked stays make a strong comeback.

International travel is slowly overtaking domestic

Comparing August 2020 to this month, across each of the 42 countries on the World Hotel Index, we can see that last August, 33.22% of bookings made globally were for international trips. This August, the number has increased to 44.84%, and is growing.

In fact, in 11 of the 17 European countries on the World Hotel Index, international arrivals will surpass domestic guests for the first time since the start of the pandemic, compared to just eight at the same time last year.

European summer bookings are still driving global momentum

Booking momentum globally continues to be driven by Europe. For the first time since the pandemic began, each of the 17 European countries on the World Hotel Index are above the global average of hotel bookings. Iceland and Spain lead the way, with more bookings being placed to their hotels relative to this time in 2019, while Portugal, Ireland and Estonia all remain above 90% of their 2019 levels. Even in traditional tourist hubs such as Paris, where hotels aren’t heavily frequented by locals, booking volumes have remained above 50% of 2019 levels this month, for the first time since March 2020.

Bookings in the Americas also continue to remain solid, despite the fresh wave of delta cases spreading through the region. Costa Rica is the only nation below the global average in the Americas, while booking volumes to Canadian hotels have overtaken U.S. volumes, relative to their respective 2019 levels, for the first time this year.

Meanwhile, in the Asia Pacific, while locations such as the Cook Islands and Maldives continue to lead hotel booking momentum globally, the strict lockdowns and reliance by many on longer haul international movement, means that the nations in this region continue to make up each of the 10 bottom spots on our World Hotel Index.

Hong Kong, however, does present an example of how quickly things can change for hoteliers in the Asia Pacific. Bookings there have grown 47% in the last month, to 89% of 2019 levels, as the city begins easing restrictions on vaccinated travellers.

Travellers look to end the year on a high

In case the year hasn’t felt short enough, Christmas and New Year bookings are now coming in quick and fast around the world. While the trend of last-minute bookings is still largely driving momentum, for locations such as Malaysia and Thailand, bookings between 21 December and 3 January now make up almost 15% of all confirmed arrivals over the coming year.

I know I’m keenly awaiting the chance to jump on the road again, and explore the coastline over Australia’s summer months – if all goes to plan!

Until my September update, stay safe and take care.

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