Skift Take

For the first time since January 2020, the Skift Travel Health Index has topped 100, a sign that global tourism is now performing better than it did before the pandemic. Every region in our index showed growth over the last month.

April 2023 marked an important milestone: The full recovery of travel since the pandemic – as measured by the Skift Travel Health Index. And it’s a record, with our index passing the level last reached in 2019.

The Travel Health Index is a proprietary tool produced by Skift Research to track the travel industry’s performance using 84 travel indicators with data from 22 partners. The global index currently stands at 101, up 2 percentage points from the previous month.

At its lowest point, the index hit 20 in April 2020 – that meant travel performance had dropped to 20% of levels in April 2019. The travel rebound has come a long way since then.

To read more about the current performance of the travel industry, our latest report, Skift Travel Health Index: April 2023 Highlights, has all the data and insights you need.

Regional Gains Across the Board

While Latin America leads the index, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa also surpassed pre-pandemic levels in the month. North America and Europe are just shy of achieving full recovery.

The Latin American region has been the most resilient through the pandemic. After the initial slump in 2020 when the regional travel index went down as low as 21, travel was quick to recover in the following year. Mexico’s travel rebound accelerated and by early 2022, the region had not just rebounded from the pandemic but outperformed pre-pandemic performance levels.

Not All Countries Have Recovered

As of April 2023, 13 out of 22 countries tracked have surpassed 2019 levels. While Hong Kong and Russia’s recovery rates of 77% and 63%, respectively, have been dragging the index down, other countries’ strong performance has been able to make up for that.

China Is Travel’s Panacea

The Asia Pacific region’s long-term struggle eased once China reopened for travel. China’s travel health has been crucial to the region’s revival. This is seen in the sharp uptick in the region’s performance following China’s comeback January 2023 onwards.

The Lunar New Year as well as the Labor Day holiday spurred travel optimism in Asia Pacific. Although international travel remains below pre-pandemic levels, the region fully recovered from March 2023 onwards, on the back of the domestic travel boom.

Other countries in the Asia Pacific region have benefited from travel from Mainland China, boosting the index. As of April 2023, the region is 3 points above 2019 levels. 

We should note that the world also realized India’s travel potential when Chinese travel came to a standstill. The frontrunner in Asia Pacific’s recovery, India first surpassed pre-pandemic performance in May 2022.

Vacation Rentals Drove Accommodation Recovery

The vacation rental sector gained popularity through the pandemic, recovering faster than hotels. The sector’s index initially surpassed 2019 performance in January 2022 by 12 percentage points, and it has since risen above pre-pandemic levels.

Since January 2023, vacation rentals have been 30-40 percentage points above 2019 performance levels. This surge, however, might be slowing down. Read the latest April 2023 Highlights to find out more.

Aviation Sector Still Catching Up

The aviation sector has been the slowest to recover, due to challenges such as high fuel costs, labor restrictions, and the complete standstill of air traffic during the depths of the pandemic. That said, the sector has had a consistent upward trajectory since late 2022. As of April 2023, the sector was 85 percent recovered. 

Aviation performance metrics segmented by flight searches, flight bookings, and flight performance highlight that, while flight searches have been high in all regions except North America, the North American region had recovered 94 percent of flight bookings in April 2023.

Flight bookings in the Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa are low. The same pattern can be seen in flight performance (actual flights taken). Latin America has consistently led the way in terms of aviation performance growth.

Prices, Not Volume, Are Driving Rebound

High prices have fueled the recovery even though travel volumes have not fully recovered. The average transaction value for hotel stays has increased 13 percent globally compared to 2019 levels.

Compared to pre-pandemic, the Groups and Family segments have performed above average. Significant growth was seen in the Family segment, which is now up 12 percent from April 2019 levels. According to data from TravelgateX, even the Solo segment, which appears to be the most price-sensitive, increased by 12 percent from 2019 levels.

More analysis can be found in our April 2023 Highlights report and on our Skift Travel Health Index data dashboard.


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Tags: aviation, coronavirus recovery, skift research, skift travel health index

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