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End-of-year hotel bookings spike as holiday plans take shape

By Mike Ford, Founder at SiteMinder



A further easing of restrictions over the past month has allowed confidence to build, as travellers prepare for a holiday season away from home. Currently, the World Hotel Index shows us that an average of more than 1-in-5 existing hotel bookings globally are for the three weeks leading up to year’s end, while an average of almost 10% of booked stays are due for arrival in the week around New Year’s Eve.

As a result of the end-of-year celebration rush, global hotel booking momentum remains stable, hovering at around 80% of pre-pandemic volumes. And, there is evidence that a more holistic recovery has recently taken place. Only six countries on the World Hotel Index now sit below 50% of their 2019 reservation numbers, compared to nine at this time in October and 23 countries six months ago, in May. Pleasingly, more than 3-in-5 countries are now above 70% of their pre-pandemic levels.

Partly responsible are a range of eased restrictions and greater international movement. So far in November, international travellers have made up 51.32% of hotel bookings, when averaging the ratios of the countries on the World Hotel Index, up from 49.03% at this time in October and 44.84% in August.

The Americas now lead the charge

Chile’s hotel booking momentum for the first time tops the World Hotel Index globally, thanks to its removal of quarantine requirements and one of the highest vaccination rates on earth. The timing is ideal for the country, as the peak summer period and Antarctic cruise season approach, capping off a strong month for the region. Mexico and Costa Rica are positioned second and fourth on the World Hotel Index, when ranking all countries by their current booking volumes compared to their respective pre-pandemic levels, while the U.S. and Canada have recently reached 20-month highs.

In the U.S., hotel booking momentum is now above 90% of 2019 levels, thanks to eased restrictions on a long list of countries and the reopening of borders with Canada and Mexico. The country had been closed to non-essential international travel since March 2020.

Here in the Asia Pacific, Thailand’s long-awaited reopening to quarantine-free travel at the start of the month has prompted hotel bookings to rally, as travellers target December and the new year. And, Australia’s hotel bookings are again above the global average, having slipped below it in mid-July.

Not to be outdone, Europe still has the largest number of countries outpacing their pre-pandemic booking volumes, thanks to the hotels of Iceland, Portugal, Spain, Estonia and increasingly chilly Sweden. As restrictions remain eased across the continent, winter holidays that were last year put on hold are now officially getting underway, creating an uptick of international arrivals to locations such as Finland and Norway where ski fields are again coming to life.

As usual, I will be back next month to monitor this, and other trends found in the World Hotel Index. Until then, happy holiday booking!

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