2022, the year of the reconstruction of tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean

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2022, the year of the reconstruction of tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean
Source: Twitter @IATA
May 25, 2022

According to a new report, the region could close the year with some 120 million more passengers than in 2021

After two turbulent years, new research from the Mastercard Economics Institute reveals that global business and leisure flight bookings1 exceed pre-pandemic levels, while spending on cruises, buses and trains make big improvements this year. The Travel 2022: Trends and Transitions report, released today, presents crucial information from 37 markets on the global state of travel in this post-vaccination and more flexible period of the pandemic era. 

It is important to note that, according to the analysis of the Mastercard Economics Institute, if trends continue as they are now, in 2022 approximately 120 million more passengers will fly in Latin America and the Caribbean than they did last year.

Based on an analysis of public travel data2 as well as aggregate and anonymous sales from the Mastercard network3, the report highlights the core elements of travel. The main conclusions - until April 2022 - include:

  • Travel recovery has been a key area for most of the pandemic. At the end of April, global leisure flight bookings exceeded 2019 levels by 25%; bookings for short- and medium-haul leisure flights increased by 25% (70% in LAC) and 27% (69% in LAC), respectively. Additionally, global business flight bookings surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time in March this year. In Latin America and the Caribbean, short-haul travel has fully recovered by early 2021, and long-haul has yet to fully recover.
  • The most recent spending levels reflect a greater acceptance of group travel. Global cruise spending rose 62% from January to the end of April, although it remains below 2019 levels. Buses are back to pre-pandemic levels, while trains remain 7% below. Travel by car retains its charm, with spending on tolls and car rental rising by almost 19% and 12%, respectively.
  • For nearly an entire year, international tourists spent more on experiences than souvenirs. Spending on experiences is now 34% above 2019 levels; the areas registering the largest increases are bars and nightclubs (72%) and amusement parks, museums, concerts and other recreational activities (35%). In Brazil, spending on experiences was up 40% compared to 2019, while spending on stores and fairs was down more than 11%. 
  • Naturally, the possibility and convenience of traveling have been determining factors when selecting destinations5. This was evident in popular destinations for North American travelers, who traveled to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and other destinations where restrictions were less strict. In fact, bookings from the United States to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico increased by almost 84%, 73%, 65%, and 56%, respectively, compared to 2019. These same countries are among the top 10 destinations for travelers North Americans, due to the impulse of “remote workers” and “digital nomads”, which caused the influx of tourists. Meanwhile, the destinations most chosen by Latin Americans towards the end of March were the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Panama and Colombia. 
  • Car travel retains its allure, with global spending on tolls and car rentals up almost 19% and 12% respectively. As countries in Latin America and the Caribbean began to loosen their restrictions in the spring of 2021, cross-border car rental spending began to accelerate and has reached pre-pandemic levels as of May 2021.

"Like any flight, travel's recovery has faced headwinds and tailwinds. In this global 'Great Rebalancing,' mobility is critical to returning to pre-pandemic lifestyles. Consumer resilience to return to 'business as usual' and making up for lost time makes us believe that the recovery will run its course, even if there are bumps in the road," said Bricklin Dwyer, chief economist at Mastercard and director of the Mastercard Economics Institute.


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