Skift Take

Skift Research is cautiously optimistic about travel's continued recovery in 2023, despite a growing likelihood of a recession in many countries. Travel is still under-indexed compared to the broader economy, and the reopening of Chinese borders provides a strong boost.

Skift Research has been tracking the performance of the travel industry since the start of the pandemic, and we have analyzed all the peaks and troughs, highs and lows for three years now. The last months of 2022 saw little movement in the global Index score as continued growth in demand in some areas was counterbalanced by increased worries about the broader economy.

As of the end of 2022, the Skift Travel Health Index stands at 86 points, meaning it falls 14 percent short of 2019 performance levels. Full analysis can be read in the latest December 2022 Highlights report.

Full recovery has seemed impossible without the return of Chinese travelers. Luckily for the industry, those floodgates are reopening, providing a significant boost for 2023 prospects.

And according to Skift Research there is further reason for cautious optimism. While travel is closely linked to the wider health of the economy, we’ve been focused on getting back to pre-pandemic levels, all the while the rest of the economy has moved on. 

In North America, gross domestic product (GDP) is on track to be 20 percent higher than in 2019, while the Travel Health Index has only just returned to 100 percent. The industry is calling a victory for getting back to pre-pandemic levels, but the truth is that the broader economy has grown by 20 to 30 percent in the meantime.  

This all to say that even if travel will be impacted by a recession and reduction in travel spending, there is still a lot of room for growth. If GDP growth drops by a few percentage points, the difference in where travel stands today remains significant and continues to allow for growth. 

Skift Research forecasts that international trips are set to grow 50 percent in 2023, compounding a 90 percent growth rate in 2022.  

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Tags: china, coronavirus, recession, skift research, skift travel health index

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