It is common knowledge that the global pandemic has wreaked destruction on the travel industry, with total international arrivals in the third quarter of the year 94% down on the same period in 2019. But new research reveals that there may be a glimmer of hope immediately south of the USA.
Bookings for travel to holiday hot spots in Mexico and various Caribbean islands in the fourth quarter of the year are looking significantly less bad than almost everywhere else in the world. As of 19th September, flight bookings globally for the fourth quarter of 2020 were 83% behind where they were at the equivalent moment last year.
However, bookings (in order of market size) from all international markets to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Aruba were behind by 52%, 59%, 56%, 47% and 50% respectively.
According to industry analysts, what sets Mexico apart, and some Caribbean islands too, is that they have stayed open to visitors during the pandemic, or they have reopened sooner, and, as a result, they have gained market share.
The two stand-out destinations are in Mexico, San Jose del Cabo, on the Pacific Ocean, a hot-spot for surfing, and Cancun, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean, a hot-spot for scuba diving. Both showed growth in weekly flight bookings from the USA in the first four weeks of September (1st – 27th), with Cancun back to where it was during the equivalent period in 2019 and San Jose del Cabo 26% ahead.
Helpfully, Latin America has been “on sale” during September, with air fares for travel in the last quarter of the year being 15-30% down on 2019 prices. Fares to the Caribbean were also substantially down, particularly from France and the USA, where discounts exceeded 20%.
Despite the pandemic and the associated travel restrictions, some people are still keen to take a holiday abroad, with the sun and sea proving to be particularly popular. Industry experts expect the recovery will be led by ‘last minute’ bookings for short-haul vacations, with business and long-haul travel lagging. The challenge for destinations is to attract the visitors. As a major destination, Mexico has done particularly well in this regard, proving that it is possible to register growth from its most important source market, even in exceptionally difficult conditions.
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