New travel industry report reveals the top travel trends of 2021, which, unsurprisingly, are all driven by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
- US Leisure travel has led the recovery
- The paralysis of Asia Pacific continued while Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and much of Africa have proved most resilient
- The Middle East started to revive
- Domestic travel has been dominant, particularly in large countries
- Major European airlines have struggled disproportionately
- There has been a relative decline in long-haul travel
- Doha and Amsterdam have advanced in the battle of the hubs
- New variants have continued to pose a potent threat
US Leisure travel has led the recovery
A comparison of the world’s top destination cities, before the pandemic in 2019, and throughout 2021, illustrates the strong trend towards leisure travel leading the recovery. Several major cities have been pushed down or out of the top 20 rankings, whereas major leisure destinations, particularly for US holidaymakers, have climbed high. While Dubai remains at the top of the list (it is a major leisure destination as well as a substantial travel and commerce hub), the most notable rises include, Miami, from 18th to 5th, Madrid from 16th to 10th and new into the list, Cancun (Mexico) at 2nd, Cairo (Egypt) at 9th, Punta Cana (Dominical Republic) at 12th, San Juan (Puerto Rico) at 13th, Lisbon at 14th, Athens at 15th, Mexico City at 16th, Palma Mallorca at 17th, and Frankfurt at 20th. The two highest risers, Cancun and Miami, are both major leisure destinations popular with US holidaymakers. Most of the new entrants lower down the list are also leading leisure destinations, popular with European holidaymakers. Doha, which entered at 7th, has done particularly well as a hub for transits.
Major pre-pandemic destinations, which have fallen out of the top 20 list include ten major cities: Bangkok, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Jeddah, Los Angeles and Osaka.