Introduction: Air travel came to a screeching halt in early 2020 and lagged for most of the ensuing 2020-21 period, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite this massive roadblock weighing on the travel industry, there have been signs of improvement in early 2022, though not all players have recovered at the same pace – this may result in industry consolidation among smaller players.
Looking at the remainder of 2022 and beyond, the positive momentum in travel should continue at an accelerated pace, according to Similarweb estimates and projections. With increased vaccination rates, lower regional flare-ups of Covid cases, the removal of the mask mandate on airlines on April 18 in the U.S., and overall pent-up demand after nearly two years of “staycations”, consumers are ready to experience and visit sites near and far.
Projections for travel and tourism in the U.S. are expected to reach pre-pandemic levels this year, contributing nearly $2.0 trillion to the U.S. economy, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. That said, the recent and ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, following the Russian invasion of its neighbor in late February, creates a major cloud of uncertainty, particularly related to travel to European destinations from outside the region. In this Similarweb Industry Insights Report, we take a deep dive into the travel industry to learn what happened and what we can expect for the remainder of 2022, based on trends in Similarweb estimates.
- Similarweb data shows increasing airline website traffic, a good indicator that the air travel industry is likely to see increased demand in upcoming periods. Estimates show a 181% increase in mobile and desktop website traffic from the pandemic related low point in April 2020 to February 2022, surpassing levels prior to the start of Covid-19.
- Online Travel Agents (OTAs) are seeing a sharp rise in traffic and engagement. From the trough in April 2020 of 30.6 mil. visits, OTAs have seen a 327% increase in traffic to 130.7 million, but this level still lags pre-pandemic highs
- Low-cost carriers are growing faster than the rest of industry, both in the U.S. and Europe
- Based on Similarweb estimates, the accommodation sector is rebounding, with particular strength at vacation rental websites, especially airbnb.com.
- With some markets still closed or having more stringent requirements related to coronavirus, there has been an uptick in destination travel, including local entertainment and regional locations.