Skift Recovery Index: Russia Leads The Way

February 23, 2021 | Sarah McCay Tams, Director of Content, EMEA

The latest edition of the Skift Recovery Index has placed the global travel industry at an index score of 44 for January 2021. This places the travel industry’s performance as a whole at 44% compared to January 2019 figures.

However, at a country level performance differed widely. Russia took the top spot in the Index at 61.1. The country is seeing relatively strong performances, with busy ski slopes in Sochi showing that COVID restrictions are not stopping Russians from traveling.

China, at 47.8, saw its performance drop in January as the country put around 20 million people back in local lockdowns amid continued fear of the virus flaring up again.

Also in APAC, Australia fielded a 42.7 performance while Singapore was still struggling at 23.3.

In Europe, France came in at 31.7, Germany was at 29.0, Italy at 25.9 and Spain at 29.6. The UK was at 33.5.

In the Americas the US held strong at 53.1 while Mexico performed even better at 58.1.

When looking at the different travel segments broken out in the Index, the car rental segment continued to drop, at 30% of January 2019 levels. The flight segment was at 34% and lodging, for which Duetto provides data, stood at 44%.

Will Vaccinations Revitalize Travel?

The Skift Recovery Index has started tracking the rate of vaccination in the 22 countries it covers to see if there is any correlation between vaccination rates and travel recovery.

So far, Israel is racing ahead with already more than 60% of its population having received at least one vaccination as of the end of January, according to data from Our World in Data. The UAE, UK and US are also all progressing well in their vaccination efforts.

Along with vaccination progress, there has been plenty of discussion around health passports, seen as a way for travelers to prove they have been tested or vaccinated. The first digital health passports to emerge include ICC AOKpass, CoronaPass and CommonPass. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is proposing the industry use its system Travel Pass, and Ticketmaster is reportedly working on a passport system for live events.

It is hoped that vaccine progress will quickly bolster demand. TUI, in its earnings call on February 9, said that it was seeing the first positive effects of vaccine rollouts. In January 2021, the European tour operator received 2.8 million bookings for summer vacations, which is about 50% of 2019 levels. Most of these bookings were made by UK residents, possibly encouraged by the country’s successful vaccine drive.

It will take some time before vacation bookings are back at 2019 levels and booking behavior may remain altered for some time. Bernstein analysts have already noted that the normal January peak in Google searches for vacations did not happen. As such, the Skift Recovery Index predicts that, much like in 2020, the travel industry should expect shorter booking windows and more last minute travel this year. Cancelation rates will likely remain high.

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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