Skift Take

The world has become obsessed with vaccination drives, testing, and health passports. How best to reopen destinations to domestic and international visitors in coming months will be much discussed. The efficacy around all of those approaches will certainly play a central role in governments’ decision-making.

The Skift Recovery Index has started tracking the rate of vaccination in the 22 countries covered in the Index, to see if there is any correlation between vaccination rates and travel recovery.

For now, it’s only a few countries that stand out as frontrunners, and the correlation coefficient (r) is low at 0.25 (meaning there is little correlation between vaccinations and travel performance). This makes sense as the overriding factors at present will be national lockdowns and travel restrictions, but as these start to lift later this year, we will track how vaccine rollouts impact travel performance.

You can keep track of this, and other key insights, in our free Skift Recovery Index dashboard on

Over the coming months the debate around testing and vaccinations will continue to evolve. The tourism industry will want to shape and guide this discussion, as it has such a major stake in a sound outcome. At Skift Research, we believe 2021 will be about the following:

    • No unified solution: While a single test and trace system, utilized by all destinations, airlines, and accommodation providers would benefit the tourism recovery, this will not happen.
    • Disparate approaches: More than one system will be implemented, and for the foreseeable future there will be additional barriers to traveling, as travelers will need to find out the specific requirements for each country, as well as book pre-departure tests.
    • Information is key: Accurate and timely information provision will be paramount. Airlines, hotels, and tour operators will need to jump in with accurate information.
    • Hard to find leadership: The UNWTO and WTTC have not had the ear of many governments, and have moved slowly so far. This has allowed (forced) individual companies to jump in and implement their own systems around testing and tracing.
    • Opportunity out of adversity: There are clear opportunities for companies, within and outside the travel sphere, to offer services related to the new requirements in travel, be it testing facilities or health tracking technology.
    • Vaccines bolster demand? TUI, in its earnings call on February 9 said that it is seeing the first effects of vaccine rollouts. In January 2021, the European tour operator received 2.8 million bookings for summer vacations, which is about 50% of 2019 levels. Most of these bookings were made by UK residents, possibly bolstered by the successful vaccine drive in their country. Let’s hope this is a harbinger of things to come.
    • Booking windows shorten: As indicated by the figures released by TUI, it will take a while before vacation bookings are back to 2019 levels, as also indicated by search results on Google. Pointed out by Bernstein analysts in a recent note, the normal January peak in Google searches for vacations did not happen. Like in 2020, expect shorter booking windows and more last minute travel this year. Cancellation rates will likely remain high.

Skift Research’s latest report, discussing the January 2021 Highlights from the Skift Recovery Index is now available to our subscribers.

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Skift Research published its latest report highlighting how travel performance was shaping up during the month of November. The report analyzes recovery by travel sector, as well as by country.

The Skift Recovery Index is a real-time measure of where the travel industry at large — and the core verticals within it — stands in recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. We work with 17 data partners to track how different sectors and countries are recovering from the current pandemic.

The index provides the travel industry with a powerful tool for strategic planning, of utmost importance in this uncertain business climate. Skift Research members have access to all data and reports.


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Tags: covid-19, skift recovery index, skift research, travel recovery

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