On Nov. 17, the United States reached an encouraging milestone with 80% of Americans 12 and over having received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In recent weeks, a third booster shot was approved by the FDA, along with vaccination approval for children ages 5 to 11. Pfizer, which developed a new COVID-19 pill regime that is reported to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 89%, is seeking FDA approval.
With this news, travel in 2022 is expected to rebound significantly, and many companies are already seeing the effects. Airbnb logged its “Best Quarter Ever” in Q3, airlines such as Delta are increasing the number of daily flights in 2022, business travel is expected to increase by 38% over 2021, and 2021 holiday travel is expected to well exceed 2020 travel levels with airfares skyrocketing given demand. In fact, over 10 million passengers were screened by TSA over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the most it has seen since the pandemic began nearly two years ago.
However, just as we turn a page, the omicron variant has been upgraded to one of “concern” by the World Health Organization and is something travelers and countries will continue to watch as more data is confirmed. Due to the new variant, the Biden administration announced on Dec. 2 that any travelers entering the U.S. must provide a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of arrival regardless of nationality or vaccination status. MMGY Global’s latest survey of U.S. adults revealed that 45% of respondents who are familiar with the omicron variant are less likely to travel in the next three months because of related concerns. However, the survey found that 39% of vaccinated adults familiar with omicron say news of the variant has no impact on their likelihood to travel in the next three months, while the majority of those who are unvaccinated (71%) say this news does not impact their likelihood to travel.
The following is a summary of trends and industry shifts that MMGY NJF has compiled from recent media feedback, widespread coverage, industry conferences and webinars:
- Travel + Leisure Destination of the Year – Travel + Leisure has unveiled Mexico as its 2022 Destination of the Year, celebrating the country’s regional nuances and less-explored pockets, along with its beguiling cultures, crafts and cuisines.
- Business Travel – Business travel has seen a slower recovery than leisure travel as we come out of the pandemic, but a year-over-year surge of 38% is expected in 2022 as recovery and pent-up demand kicks into gear. Slow but steady, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) predicts that global business travel will see a full recovery by 2024.
- Luxury Travel – As the luxury travel industry continues to recover, travel agents are seeing an increased interest in private experiences – private jets, private island buy-outs and private tours. Plus, long stays, wellness retreats, extended-family excursions and boundary-testing adventures are expected to define luxury travel in 2022.
- Shape Magazine Ceasing Monthly Publication – In November, Shape Magazine announced it would cease monthly publication in favor of its digital entity. However, the publication will produce two special print issues each year for newsstands only.
- San Diego Magazine Makes a Comeback – San Diego Magazine, which temporarily ceased publication early in the pandemic, has been acquired by longtime food writer Troy Johnson. The magazine’s coverage will expand to real estate and development, architecture and home design, technology, culture and philanthropy, and wellness.
TRENDS IMPACTING THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY
- Children Get Vaccinated – The FDA approved vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11, and for many families with kids in that age range, this news is a game changer, spurring upcoming travel plans, especially as we head into the holiday season.
- Inflight Liquor Sales Resume – Since the pandemic began, airlines around the world have halted inflight liquor sales for economy guests. United Airlines has announced that it will resume inflight liquor sales, and other airlines are expected to follow suit in 2022.
- European Travel Expected to Surge – Travel to Europe is expected to surge in summer 2022. In anticipation, airlines are increasing the number of daily flights. Delta Air Lines announced 73 new daily flights from 10 U.S. cities to 25 destinations within Europe – a 90% increase from summer 2021. Eurail, the train pass system that allows rail travel throughout 33 European countries with a single ticket, saw Black Friday sales comparable to pre-COVID years, signaling that travelers are planning to visit Europe in the coming year.