With the major holiday vacation period set to start, Sabre, a top software and technology firm in the global travel industry, has released new booking analytics demonstrating rising travel confidence and the emerging festive locations of choice for international visitors.
According to Sabre statistics, the number of Christmas and New Year bookings has increased significantly compared to last year, and holiday booking windows are getting close to pre-pandemic levels.
Booking windows and increased confidence
A close examination of Sabre’s booking patterns (of reservations made through the end of October) reveals that this year, 60 per cent of reservations for the holiday season were made in September and October, compared to 55 per cent in 2019. Although more reservations were made this year closer to the holidays, the difference between 2022 and 2019 is getting less.
A key statistic for assessing traveler confidence is the booking window’s length, which can indicate increased confidence. Due to travel restrictions and uncertainty surrounding the COVID pandemic, there were more last-minute reservations than usual. Travelers were unsure if the travel situation would alter by the time their departure date arrived and, as such, were less eager to make prior reservations.
People are often more inclined to make longer-term arrangements now that the travel environment is more predictable since it is more probable that the trip will go as planned.
A definite image of recovery appears when looking at foreign travel from the USA, where travel restrictions were eased far sooner than in other regions. Compared to 38 per cent in 2021 and 27 per cent in 2019, 29 per cent of foreign festive bookings (of bookings made through the end of October) were made in September and October 2022.
In Asia, 76 per cent of all reservations (of reservations made until the end of October) for the year-end vacations were made in September and October, coinciding with the beginning of the further relaxation of travel restrictions throughout the region.
In 2019, the same months saw about 55 per cent of reservations. Whereas travel restrictions have loosened lately, Taiwan and Hong Kong have had the most significant recovery in APAC. Bookings from Hong Kong were just 16 per cent of the same time in 2019 at the start of Q3. The recovery stood at 29 per cent at the end of the third quarter. With a 17 per cent recovery at the beginning of the quarter and a 45 per cent recovery at its conclusion, Taiwan is an even more remarkable tale.
Trends in holiday destination travel
Where are tourists going if they make reservations further in advance of their departure date and more significant numbers?
According to Sabre’s booking data, most passengers prefer domestic travel over international travel for the upcoming holiday season, up 33 per cent from 27 per cent in 2019. Critical trends for destinations include:
Nearly half (47 per cent) of travelers leaving the US on an international flight as a family or couple had made travel arrangements to spend the holidays in Mexico or the Caribbean.
In 2019 and 2022, the top destinations for couples and families will be the United States, Mexico, and Japan.
While Thailand is a well-liked location for couples vacationing together, families are increasingly choosing to travel to the United Arab Emirates.
Costa Rica and Italy are now the top travel destinations for families and couples leaving from North America, respectively.
China and Vietnam were two of the top 10 travel destinations in the world in 2019, but this year, the Dominican Republic and Canada surpassed them.
Thailand has slipped from third to fifth place in the top 10 international holiday destinations list.
Top 10 holiday vacation locations worldwide
What are the top ten excursions that people worldwide are booking the most during this holiday season?
10 India to the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The UAE is a popular location for Indian tourists wishing to spend time with their spouses and families due to lowered travel restrictions, inexpensive lodging alternatives, and quick transit durations between the two nations.
9 Canada to Mexico
Due to its short five-hour flying time, Mexico is proving to be a popular getaway location for Canadian vacationers searching for inexpensive vacation choices.
8 South Korea to Thailand
Thailand’s tourism board projects South Korea will bring more than 500,000 visitors this year and more than 1.3 million by 2023, making it a significant source market for foreign tourists visiting Thailand.
7 United States to Jamaica
Since Jamaica is only a short flight away from the US, Americans frequently choose it to escape the chilly winter for some sun, sand, and clear waters.
6 United Kingdom to the United States
The United States is a popular travel destination for many nations. Inbound travel from the UK, which has historically been a significant source market for the US, continues to look promising in 2022.
5 South Korea to Vietnam
Vietnam is a popular destination for Korean visitors because of its accessibility and regular direct flights. The Vietnamese government has also worked on marketing the nation as a tourism destination and bringing in more South Korean tourists.
4 United States to Dominican Republic
Another well-liked beach destination offering US visitors sunshine and relaxation at reasonable prices is the Dominican Republic.
3 Canada to the US
The US is a highly sought-after vacation destination for Canadians searching for a cheap break over Christmas due to its short flight time.
2 South Korea to Japan
Given that Japan is one of the last few nations in the world to have travel restrictions lifted, it should be no surprise that South Korea, Japan’s neighbor, sends numerous visitors there.
1 United States to Mexico
Due to the proximity of the two nations, Mexico also naturally travels to the US.
The global travel ecosystem is anticipated to continue recovering and expanding in 2023 due to rising passenger numbers, travelers’ increased confidence in longer-term plans, and the emergence of new destinations to replace those that are still difficult to access.
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