The global pandemic has wreaked destruction on the travel industry, with total international arrivals in the third quarter of the year down by 94% compared to the same period in 2019.
But now, research undertaken by ForwardKeys, a leading travel analytics company, reveals that there may be a glimmer of hope immediately south of the US border. Bookings for travel to holiday hot spots in Mexico and various Caribbean islands in the last quarter of the year are looking better than other regions in the world during Covid-19.
As of 19th September, flight bookings globally for Q4 of 2020 were 83% behind where they were at the equivalent moment last year. However, bookings (in order of market size) from all international markets to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Aruba were behind by 52%, 59%, 56%, 47%, and 50% respectively.
“What sets Mexico apart, and some Caribbean islands too, is that they have stayed open to visitors during the pandemic, or they have reopened sooner, and, as a result, they have gained market share,” says Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights at ForwardKeys.
The two stand-out destinations in Mexico are San Jose del Cabo, on the Pacific Ocean, and Cancun, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean. Both showed growth in weekly flight bookings from the USA in the first four weeks of September (1st – 27th), with Cancun back to where it was during the equivalent period in 2019 and San Jose del Cabo in the positive, ahead by 26%. Double-digit growth!
Latin America has been “On Sale” during September, with airfares for travel in the last quarter of the year being down by 15-30% on 2019 prices. Fares to the Caribbean were also substantially down, particularly from France and the USA, where discounts exceeded 20%.
“Despite the pandemic and the associated travel restrictions, some people are still keen to take a holiday abroad, with the sun and sea proving to be particularly popular. At ForwardKeys, we expect the recovery will be led by ‘last-minute’ bookings for short-haul vacations, with business and long-haul travel lagging,” adds Ponti.
“As a major destination, Mexico has done particularly well in this regard, proving that it is possible to register growth from its most important source market, even in exceptionally difficult conditions,” poignantly Ponti concludes.