Skift Take

Uncertainty prevails as travel's recovery speeds up in some countries, while others see previous gains dissipating. Overall, the global recovery stalled at 65 percent of pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest findings from the Skift Recovery Index.

July saw a stalling of the global recovery, after travel’s performance was coming back strongly during the previous months. July looked much more positive than July of 2020, but since it is usually a bumper month for tourism in destinations in the northern hemisphere, the recovery’s loss of momentum last month as the Covid variant spread was wrenching.

The latest insights from the Skift Recovery Index show once again that recovery is extremely unequal across the globe. While 2020 saw similar recovery patterns for most regions, 2021 is identified by the major divergence of performances across regions.

In 2020 the only exception to the rule was Europe, registering a real bump in travel volumes over the summer months, followed by the worst performance of any region during the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021. While things have improved for European destinations in 2021, its current recovery path is completely in parallel with that of 2020, obviously with the hope that there won’t be a slump after the summer season.

Worrisome, however, is that new Covid cases are again increasing in many European destinations as countries struggle to tame the Delta variant. While the region registered some growth in July, it was far from the strong recovery of the previous months.

Interestingly, the country with the highest number of new Covid cases was the UK, which also had its much anticipated and postponed ‘Freedom Day’ — the day that all lockdown restrictions were lifted — on July 19. In the build-up to this date, the UK had already seen a stark improvement in its score, and while July saw a relatively tempered increase of 3 index points compared to June, it did provide some much needed relief for many destinations that rely heavily on UK travelers.

According to data from Skyscanner, bookings for outbound flights from the UK jumped up after July 8, which was the day it was confirmed that ‘Freedom Day’ would go ahead. Spain, Greece, Italy, and Portugal were the most searched international destinations according to Skyscanner.

This highlights the uncertainty that continues to prevail about the shape of recovery, and the timeframe within which it will take place. More analysis about the impact of the Delta variant can be found in the Skift Recovery Index: July 2021 Highlights report, and more in-depth data is available on our free Recovery Index Dashboard.

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Skift Research’s latest report, discussing the July 2021 Highlights from the Skift Recovery Index is now available to our subscribers, containing more insights into the recovery of specific countries and sectors.

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