Vaccinations are reviving international travel


The latest research from ForwardKeys, based on the most up to date and comprehensive fight booking data available, reveals that vaccinations appear to hold the key to reviving international travel.

Two destinations – Greece and Iceland – which have announced that they will welcome vaccinated visitors this summer, have seen inbound flight bookings pick up dramatically from the moment of their announcements.

Three origin markets – Israel, the USA and the UK – where vaccination campaigns are particularly well advanced, have seen outbound flight bookings climb more steeply than elsewhere.

Greece, whose economy is highly dependent on tourism, has led the way in announcing a willingness to welcome visitors who have been vaccinated, had a negative Covid-19 test, or recovered from the disease.

That public position has been rewarded in flight bookings from major outbound markets such as the USA and the UK. For example, Greece tops the list of most popular destinations for British travellers this summer; so much so that confirmed tickets for travel between July and September are currently 12% ahead of where they were at the equivalent moment in 2019.

Confirmed tickets for travel between July and September 2021 vs 2019, as a percentage of 2019 levels

Furthermore, analysis of the most resilient destinations in Europe this summer reveals that seven of the top 10 cities are Greek, with the island of Mykonos leading the list, with summer bookings currently standing at 54.9% of what they were at the equivalent point, pre-pandemic.

Mykonos is followed by the Spanish island of Ibiza, where bookings are at 49.2%. The next eight destinations in order of resilience are: Chania (GR) 48.9%, Thira (GR) 48.1%, Kerkyra (GR) 47.5%, Thessaloniki (GR) 43.7%, Palma de Mallorca (ES) 41.2%, Heraklion (GR) 36.6%, Athens (GR) 33.2% and Faro (PT) 32.8%.

Tickets issued for international travel to Europe, by destination city. 2021 vs 2019 volumes

The correlation between the announcement of relaxed travel restrictions and bookings is also dramatically demonstrated by flight tickets issued from the USA to Iceland.

On 26th March, the Icelandic government announced that all vaccinated travellers would be exempt from entry restrictions, and the level of issued tickets the soared to 158% of what they were during the equivalent week in 2019.

Tickets issued for air travel to Iceland: 2021 vs 2019

The correlation between vaccination rates and outbound travel is strong, as consumers gain confidence. Bookings to Europe from Israel, which has vaccinated over 60% of its population, are currently at 63% of 2019 levels, and bookings from the UK, which has vaccinated over 52%, are at 32% of 2019 levels.

Vaccinations appear to hold the key to reviving international travel, as countries that make clear promises to welcome vaccinated travellers are being rewarded by strong surges in flight bookings. We are seeing a revival of confidence in outbound travel from countries where there has been a successful rollout of Covid-19 vaccines too.

From a commercial perspective, the outlook is likely to be a little better than the numbers portray, because travellers are booking longer durations. Furthermore, if restrictions are eased in both origin markets and destinations, there are grounds for further optimism because there is strong pent-up demand and, during the pandemic, people have shown themselves willing to make bookings at significantly shorter notice than they used to.


ForwardKeys helps tourism organisations, hotels and retailers understand who is travelling where, when, and for how long by having the most comprehensive ticketing data covering the globe, from ticketing data to seat capacity and total air market


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