Skift Recovery Index: Omicron Dashed 2021 Hopes

January 25, 2022 | Claire Middleton, Contributing Editor

The latest edition of the Skift Recovery Index suggests that Omicron spoiled the travel industry’s hopes of ending the year on a high. It also highlights, however, how the relationship between travel's performance and COVID outbreaks, local lockdowns, and vaccination levels is diminishing, as we learn to live with the virus. The Index score for December was 64. 

The data indicates that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 impacted scores significantly, especially across Europe and in South Africa, with APAC being the only region to see growth during this period.  

Booker Uncertainty Is Still There

Analysis for the full year shows that travel behavior has been negatively impacted by local lockdowns, case counts and vaccinations, as airlines remain considerably reliant on domestic tourism. 

As we ended the year with an index score of 64, this suggests that demand for travel - gathered from various data indicators illustrating the whole traveler journey from exploration to post-stay - remains suppressed and in December, was at 64% of 2019 levels. 

This is much higher than it was at the beginning of 2021, but when the Index jumped by more than 10 in March - from 45 to 56 - hopes were raised that the recovery was in full swing. However, the Delta and Omicron variants have dampened traveler appetite. 

Hotels Are Back!

It has been interesting over the last year to look at the fight for dominance between hotels and vacation rentals. And it seems, from looking at the data, that hotels are back in favour.

Comparing the average volumes of 2021 bookings for hotels and rentals in each country, we see that most countries still sat well below 2019 levels, with China hotels and Mexico hotels and rentals, as the only exceptions.

It’s still a relatively mixed picture, with hotels performing better in some countries, and rentals doing better in others. However, looking at a simple average for the whole year for all 22 countries, booking volumes for hotels are at 57% and rentals are at 51% compared to 2019. 

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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