May 6 2021  |  Industry News

ForwardKeys: vaccinations are the key to international travel

By Hibah Noor

The latest research from ForwardKeys, which has the most up-to-date and comprehensive flight booking data available, reveals that vaccinations will likely hold the key to reviving international travel.

Two destinations, Greece, and Iceland, which have announced they will welcome vaccinated visitors this summer have seen inbound flight bookings pick up dramatically from the moment of their announcements.

Three origin markets, Israel, the US and the UK, where vaccination campaigns are particularly well advanced, have seen outbound flight bookings increase more steeply than elsewhere.

Greece, whose economy is highly dependent on tourism, has led the way in announcing a willingness to welcome visitors who have been vaccinated, passed a COVID-19 test or recovered from the disease.

This public position has been rewarded in flight bookings from major outbound markets such as the US and the UK. Greece tops the list of most popular destinations among British travelers this summer; so much so that confirmed tickets for travel between July and September are currently 12% ahead of where they were at the equivalent moment in 2019.

Furthermore, analysis of the most resilient destinations in Europe this summer reveals that seven of the top ten cities are Greek, with the island of Mykonos leading the list; its summer bookings currently stand at 54.9% of what they were at the equivalent point, pre-pandemic.

It is followed by the Spanish island, Ibiza, where bookings are at 49.2%. The next eight destinations in order of resilience are Chania (GR) 48.9%, Thira (GR) 48.1%, Kerkyra (GR) 47.5%, Thessaloniki (GR) 43.7%, Palma de Mallorca (ES) 41.2%, Heraklion (GR) 36.6%, Athens (GR) 33.2% and Faro (PT) 32.8%.


The correlation between the announcement of relaxed travel restrictions and bookings is also dramatically demonstrated by flight tickets issued from the USA to Iceland.

On March 26, its government announced that all vaccinated travelers would be exempt from entry restrictions and the level of issued tickets soared to 158% of what they were during the equivalent week in 2019.

The correlation between vaccination rates and outbound travel is strong, as consumers gain confidence. Bookings to Europe from Israel, which has vaccinated over 60% of its population, are currently at 63% of 2019 levels and bookings from the UK, which has vaccinated over 52%, are at 32% of 2019 levels.

“Vaccinations appear to hold the key to reviving international travel, as countries that make clear promises to welcome vaccinated travelers are being rewarded by strong surges in flight bookings. We are seeing a revival of confidence in outbound travel from countries where there has been a successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccines too.

From a commercial perspective, the outlook is likely to be a little better than the numbers portray because travelers are booking longer durations. Furthermore, if restrictions are eased in both origin markets and destinations, there are grounds for further optimism because there is strong pent-up demand and, during the pandemic, people have shown themselves willing to make bookings at significantly shorter notice than they used to,” explains Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights, ForwardKeys.

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