Africa tourism

U.S. leisure travel returns to pre-pandemic levels

U.S. consumers are spending less on products and more on experiences — a trend that could ease supply issues and inflationary pressures, and help the travel industry this summer.

For the first time since COVID brought global travel to a halt, leisure travel is back to 2019 levels, says a report published by the Mastercard Economics Institute. People are feeling more comfortable going on adventures, despite an increase in cases and average airfares which have jumped 18% globally since the start of the year.

“If flight bookings continue at their current rate, an estimated 1.5 billion more passengers worldwide will fly in 2022 compared to last year,” the report said, “with Europe recording the strongest increase – about 550 million”.

Read more: What to do if you test positive for COVID-19 while traveling

Short and medium-haul flights were up 25% and 27% in April compared to the same period in 2019. Long-haul travel, which started the year 75% below pre-pandemic levels, rebounded to just 7% below 2019 at the end of April. Passenger rail is also close by, with buses returning to where they were. Spending on cruises started the year at 75% of the 2019 peak and is now just 10% from a full recovery.

Pent-up demand for experiences appears to be driving wanderlust with tourism spending on nightclubs and bars up 72% from 2019 levels, restaurants up 31% and other recreational activities like museums, concerts and amusement parks up 35%, according to the report. . In comparison, tourist spending is down on retail goods like clothing and cosmetics.

The report found that the most popular international destination in March for travelers leaving North America was Mexico, and from Europe, the Middle East and Africa was the United Kingdom. The United States tops the list for those traveling from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific regions.

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