Mastercard Economics Institute: Pent-up Demand Pushes Global Leisure and Business Flight Bookings Above 2019 Levels


PURCHASE, NY–(BUSINESS WIRE)–After two turbulent years, new research from the Mastercard Economics Institute reveals that global leisure and business flight reservations1 have surpassed pre-pandemic levels, while spending on cruise lines, buses and trains has seen strong improvements this year. Released today, Travel 2022: Trends and Transitions provides essential insights from 37 markets on the global state of travel in a post-vaccine and less restrained chapter of the pandemic era.

Importantly, according to analysis by the Mastercard Economics Institute, if flight booking trends continue at the current rate, an estimated 1.5 billion more passengers worldwide will be flying in 2022 compared to last year. Based on unique analysis of publicly available travel data2as well as aggregated and anonymized sales activity in the Mastercard network3, the report dives into the key elements of the traveler’s journey. Key findings through April 2022 include:

  • Hobbies and business flights exceed pre-pandemic levels: The resumption of travel has largely been a consumer story for much of the pandemic. At the end of April, global leisure flight bookings exceeded 2019 levels by 25%; reservations for short and medium-haul leisure flights increased by 25% and 27% respectively. Global business flight bookings surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time in March, with long-haul flights specifically growing by double digits in April. The return to power was an important driving force.
  • Hard-hit transportation industries see spending rebound: Recent spending levels indicate a greater ease in group travel. Global spending on cruises increased by 62 percentage points from January to the end of April, but remains below 2019 levels. Buses have returned to pre-pandemic levels, while spending on passenger rail remains 7 %. Meanwhile, car travel retains its appeal, with spending on tolls and car rentals up nearly 19% and 12%, respectively.
  • Travel spend goes back to experiences4 on things: For most of the year, international tourists spent more on experiences than on souvenirs while in destination. Experience spend is now 34% above 2019 levels; the sectors with the largest increases in spending are bars and nightclubs (72%) and amusement parks, museums, concerts and other recreational activities (35%). Spending by international tourists on destination experiences increased by 60% in Singapore and around 23% in the United States. In the UK, monthly spending growth in 2022 has more than doubled from 2019 levels, currently at 140% for April.
  • Easing of restrictions recalibrates tourism map for 2022: Unsurprisingly, capacity and travel convenience have been a driving factor in booking destinations, although 2022 has provided a clean slate with eased restrictions in much of the world, with the exception of parts of the Asia Pacific. The result is that the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands are now the main destinations for tourists in the world.5.

“Like any flight, the resumption of travel has faced both headwinds and tailwinds. As the “great rebalancing” takes place around the world, this mobility is essential for a return to pre-pandemic life,” said Bricklin Dwyer, Mastercard Chief Economist and Director of the Mastercard Economics Institute. “Consumer’s resilience to get back to ‘normal’ and make up for lost time gives us optimism that the recovery will continue directionally, even if there are bumps along the way.”

Comprehensive support for travelers and the tourism sector

Mastercard delivers peace of mind, convenience and value to consumers and businesses of all sizes as they adjust to returning from travel. Whether their journey is near or far, consumer, corporate and T&E cardholders have access to a growing list of programs, platforms and partnerships. Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle Services provides travel planning, offers, reservations, guarantees and convenient concierge service 24/7. While at their destination, gives travelers access to unique experiences, benefits and offers like Mastercard Travel Rewards. And, for small business travelers, Mastercard Easy Savings offers discounts and buying power at digital business service providers, fine dining restaurants, and international retailers and hotels.

Mastercard is also dedicated to helping the global tourism industry recover and welcome travelers through a range of services, from market analysis and high-frequency data insights that help make sense of travel. from evolving consumer trends to marketing solutions and consumer engagement strategies that drive brand loyalty and maximize bookings. More recently, the Tourism Innovation Hub in Spain was launched to develop bespoke products and solutions to support a sustainable and inclusive return to travel through innovation, research and

You can view the full Travel 2022: Trends and Transitions report here. Other Mastercard Economics Institute reports are available here.

1 Corresponds to the number of flight bookings made during the reference period compared to the same period in 2019. Based on aggregated and anonymized flight booking data provided by third-party partners, sourced from Mastercard Economics Institute.

2Google Community Mobility Reports, IATA passenger data and macroeconomic indicators from various national statistical agencies.

3 Based on aggregated and anonymized Mastercard traded volumes (nominal US dollars not adjusted for currency effects), provided by Mastercard Economics Institute.

4“Experiences” includes tourist spending on restaurants, recreational activities, casinos, nightclubs, bars and other events, while “Things” includes convenience store chains, clothing, cosmetics, sporting goods, jewelry, shoes, bookstores, electronics, toys and department stores. . Excluding transport and accommodation costs. Represents analysis of aggregated and de-identified aggregated and de-identified Mastercard volumes transferred (nominal US dollars not adjusted for FX) for leisure travelers at destination.

5Analysis based on the number of inbound flight bookings to destination markets. Based on aggregated and anonymized flight booking data provided by third-party partners and obtained by Mastercard Economics Institute for the reference period between January 1 and March 31, 2022.


This presentation and content is intended solely as a research tool for informational purposes and not investment advice or recommendations for any particular stock or investment and should not be relied upon, in whole or in part, as a basis for decision-making or for investment purposes. . This presentation and content is not guaranteed as to its accuracy and is provided “as is” to authorized users, who review and use this information at their own risk. This presentation and content, including any estimated economic forecasts, simulations or scenarios from the Mastercard Economics Institute, in no way reflect expectations (or actual) of Mastercard’s operational or financial performance.

About Mastercard Economics Institute

Founded in 2020, the Mastercard Economics Institute leverages unique, high-frequency, and actionable economic metrics to empower business and government leaders with the insights needed to make informed decisions with better outcomes.​

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside our company. With connections in more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks invaluable opportunity for all.


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