As governments across the world loosen coronavirus restrictions and shift their approach to accepting Covid-19 as a manageable part of everyday life, the travel industry is growing hopeful that this will be the year that travel comes roaring back.
Travel agents and operators have reported a significant increase in bookings in recent weeks for the spring and summer seasons. The World Travel & Tourism Council, or WTTC, which represents the global travel and tourism industry, projects that travel and tourism in the United States will reach pre-pandemic levels in 2022, contributing nearly $2 trillion to the U.S. economy. The council also anticipates outbound travel from the United States will increase; it projects bookings over the Easter holiday period to be up by 130% over last year.
“Our latest forecast shows the recovery significantly picking up this year as infection rates subside and travelers continue benefiting from the protection offered by the vaccine and boosters,” said Julia Simpson, president, and CEO of the WTTC. “As travel restrictions ease and consumer confidence returns, we expect a welcome release of pent-up travel and demand.”
While uncertainty remains over the course of the pandemic and government policies on mask mandates and testing requirements for travel, the industry is seeing a strong desire among travelers to take big bucket list trips this year, particularly to far-flung international destinations and European cities.
“Travel is no longer just about ‘going somewhere,’” said Christie Hudson, a senior public relations manager for Expedia. “Coming out of such a long period of constraints and limitations, 2022 will be the year we wring every bit of richness and meaning out of our experiences.”