Growth in international travel continues to signal recovery in Europe while the fragility of recovery is highlighted in other regions

Jul 8, 2020

8th July 2020: We are in a unique position within CarTrawler having a global view of the travel industry with a diverse mix of partners across various segments including online travel agents, airlines and other travel brands. This provides us with insight into how consumers are reacting to the current global situation, in terms of their willingness to travel.  ​

As we continue to monitor trends worldwide, we can see the reaction speed, and also optimism of consumers within individual markets. As restrictions ease and are put back in place, consumer activities have been clearly visible in the booking figures. As a whole, the business remains strong with gross bookings up +6.6% week on week. This marks our 6th week in a row where bookings have continued to grow steadily while remaining net positive. ​

Overall bookings in Europe were up 17.5% this week, Northern American bookings have decreased for a second week with -2.9% change in the region, driven mainly by the US with a -5% decrease in booking figures week on week. This is representative of the sharp increase in COVID cases across the Southern states and California. ​

A core trend that has been on our radar for the last number of weeks is the split between domestic and international travel bookings and how they differ regionally. Mainland Europe appears to be the standout region where international travel is increasing most. Although in a normal year, we would expect international travel in Europe to outweigh that in Northern America when we assess data on a monthly level we can see where recovery is being signalled. ​

In Europe, international bookings now account for 65% of all bookings, this is up from 48% international bookings at the nadir in mid-May. Overall, international travel levels in Europe are now within 12 percentage points of the same period in 2019. While bookings from the UK returned to growth last week and restrictions continue to ease across the country, we saw significant booking uplift with +110% increase compared to last week. The majority of these bookings were destined for Spain, France, Portugal and Italy (combined 49.5%). This is another indication of consumer optimism when it comes to travel.​

These European trends mirror the easing of restrictions region-wide. According to Oxford research tracking restrictions within the region, much of central Europe has moved to ‘No Measures’ reducing domestic restrictions. Similar easing has been implied for international movement, most notably France, Germany Italy and Portugal are ‘Fully Open’.​

Contrary to mainland Europe’s consistent international growth, both North America & Australasia appear to be staying with domestic travel. North American bookings in the last 30 days consisted of 92% domestic bookings, with 94% domestic in Australasia. When we compare to 2019 bookings for the same period, North America had 74% domestic and 78% in Australasia. This international-domestic ratio has remained fairly consistent throughout the pandemic.