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Skift Recovery Index: Booking Activity Gets Vaccine Boost

March 16, 2021 | Claire Middleton, Contributing Editor

The latest edition of the Skift Recovery Index has placed the global travel industry at an index score of 49 for February 2021. This places the travel industry’s performance as a whole at 49% compared to February 2019 figures.

The score is now approaching 50% of pre-pandemic travel levels; it hasn’t been this high since March 2020.

This reflects a real feeling from within the industry that the situation is beginning to improve and there’s definite room for optimism. It’s felt this improvement is generally a direct result of ongoing successful vaccination programmes and dropping infection levels across the majority of markets. 

The US has seen a rise in performance and can boast the top spot this month after enjoying a real boost in hotel bookings made in February. The ongoing link between case levels and Index performance is apparent, as the number of COVID infections dropped significantly in February, going from an average of around 200,000 new cases a day in December 2020 and January 2021, to 85,000 in February. The effect this has had on travel can be seen immediately, with the US Index score going from 48 points in December to 62 points in February. 

The correlation between new COVID-19 cases and travel performance is clear in most countries. The UAE, for example, has recently seen cases increase rapidly (despite being way ahead in their vaccination schedule however) and now their index score is dropping equally rapidly, Skift reported.

Looking at China, we are this month seeing a continuation of the drop in performance we saw last month, as lockdowns were reinstated in January. This trend is likely due to less travel compared to 2019 for the Chinese New Year (Feb 5 2019 and Feb 12 2021).

As the UK government announced its roadmap out of lockdown recently, the country has seen a rise in new bookings, likely partly due to its successful vaccination programme. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement regarding the roadmap out of lockdown on February 21, there was an almost instant surge of hotel and flight bookings as travelers clearly began to look ahead with optimism. 

However, other European countries, such as Spain and Germany, have not seen this uptick yet. Spain is yet to see much improvement, but it is expected that its score will pick up over the next few months. 

In early March, Germany started lifting some of its restrictions and as it has one of the strongest traveler bases on the planet it is expected that its performance will soon catch up with other countries in Europe.

The Skift Recovery Index is a real-time measure of where the travel industry stands in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Index is compiled from data provided by industry leaders, including Amadeus, Duetto, OAG and Skyscanner, amongst others. Subscribe here: research.skift.com/recovery.

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