Report Overview

This report highlights the latest insights from the Skift Travel Health Index. The index covers travel’s performance since January 2020, up to and including September 2022.

The Skift Travel Health Index is a real-time measure of the performance of the travel industry at large, and the core verticals within it. The Index provides the travel industry with a powerful tool for strategic planning, which is of utmost importance as times remain uncertain.

Skift Research launched the Index in May 2020 as the Skift Recovery Index. At the start of 2022 we rebranded the Index as the Skift Travel Health Index, to reflect some far-ranging changes: the addition of many more indicators, additional data partners, and most importantly, our continued effort to track the industry health beyond the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We are thankful for the support of our data partners: Amadeus, Aviasales, Beyond, CarTrawler, Cendyn, Collinson, Criteo, Duetto, ForwardKeys, Hotelbeds, Key Data Dashboard, OAG, Onyx CenterSource, OTA Insight, RateGain, Shiji Group, Skyscanner, Sojern, Transparent, and TrustYou. Their data allows us to provide you with a monthly assessment of travel’s performance.

Global Travel Performance Has Stagnated

In September 2022 the global average score of the Skift Travel Health Index remained at 86% of 2019 levels, which is virtually the same score we have seen since June 2022. 

Achieving the final 14% to get completely back to pre-pandemic performance levels continues to depend mostly on Asia Pacific getting back to business-as-usual, and the airline industry returning to healthy supply and demand.

Skift Travel Health Index Performance by Region

Apr-22May-22Jun-22Jul-22Aug-22Sep-22Aug-Sep change
Asia Pacific596373747573-2 pp
Europe8895948791910 pp
Latin America106104104101104108+4 pp
Middle East and Africa929994879597+2 pp
North America10210010399100103+3 pp
Global average7881868486860 pp

Skift Travel Health Index Performance by Sector

Apr-22May-22Jun-22Jul-22Aug-22Sep-22Aug-Sep change
Aviation666971706971+2 pp
Hotels8695103989796-1 pp
Vacation Rentals106106107107112106-6 pp
Car Rental848587889396+3 pp

It’s All Happening in Asia

If there was any idea that China might be close to reopening its borders, think again. President Xi talked at the National Congress about the country’s zero-Covid pandemic response, calling it the best choice and most sustainable way forward. 

Travel numbers from the National Day Golden Week at the beginning of October (so not included in our current data update yet) continued to show weak demand as people were encouraged to stay home. Initial figures show that domestic travel stalled at $40 billion, less than half of pre-pandemic levels. Despite the low number of travelers, Covid cases still jumped from 550 on October 1st to 1,900 a week later. For the only country with a continued zero-Covid policy in place, that is 1,900 reasons to continue its course.   

Despite China’s steadfast approach, other Asian countries are racing to reopen. Japan has lifted restrictions and relaxed border controls as of October 11. The country has implemented the same rules for entry as used by the U.S. 

Hong Kong, which saw performance falling in line with China, has ended its hotel quarantine policy. This means arrivals no longer need to quarantine in a hotel, instead having to go through a three day self-monitoring period. Negative PCR tests pre-arrival are no longer required either, with a rapid test being considered sufficient. While this sounds like good news, there are reports of hotels slashing rates to fill rooms now that quarantine stays are gone. 

Singapore, always less reliant on the Chinese traveler, is improving rapidly now that it has relaxed its entry requirements. Room prices are strong as conferences are coming back, and the Singapore F1 Grand Prix in early October further boosted demand.

Is It Too Late for Asia? Travel Epicenter Moving West

While Asia is finally picking up some momentum, it unquestionably continues to rely on the Chinese traveler more so than the rest of the world. A report by the Centre of Aviation states that Europe will likely become the largest travel region by the end of 2022, taking the title from the Asia Pacific region. While traffic has recovered to 85% of pre-pandemic levels in Europe, it sits at only 45% in Asia Pacific. 

India is a standout with traffic only 11% below 2019 levels, which is in line with the strong performance of India in our Index. CAPA predicts Asia Pacific will not see a full return to pre-pandemic travel figures until the end of 2023 or early 2024.

New data from our partner OAG on the busiest airline routes in 2022 similarly shows this shift from the East back to the West. The list of top 10 busiest airline routes between November 2021 and October 2022, based on scheduled seats, looks very differently from the 2019 list. 

Top 10 Busiest Routes by Seat Capacity in 2019 (Left) and 2022 (Right) 

2019DepartArriveMillion seats2022DepartArriveMillion seats
1Hong KongTaipei7.961CairoJeddah3.23
2Kuala LumpurSingapore5.562DubaiRiyadh3.19
3JakartaSingapore5.483New YorkLondon2.84
4BangkokHong Kong4.834DubaiLondon2.69
5Hong KongShanghai4.465Kuala LumpurSingapore2.44
6Hong KongSeoul3.946DubaiJeddah2.42
7Hong KongManila3.857OrlandoSan Juan2.09
8New YorkLondon3.838MumbaiDubai1.97
10JakartaKuala Lumpur3.7910DelhiDubai1.89

Visualized, the difference between 2019 and 2022 is stark. Nine out of the 10 busiest international routes were in Asia Pacific in 2019. Today, Dubai has taken over the role of Hong Kong as the major hub for the busiest routes. 

That said, according to data from OAG, many of the busiest domestic routes are still in Asia Pacific countries. And with strong demand for domestic travel in China, it is extremely likely that this map will be rewritten once Chinese borders reopen. The return of business travel will likely also shift the ranking of route demand into 2023. The busiest route in 2022 (Cairo to Jeddah) is still only 40% of the seat volume of the 2019 busiest route (Hong Kong to Taipei). 

U.S.: Recovered but Possible Recession Clouds the Path Forward

In the U.S., we no longer talk of recovery, at least not for leisure travel. The Index score has been above 95% of pre-pandemic performance levels since February 2022, and sat at 104% in September. There are certainly regional issues, like Hurricane Ian’s decimation of southwest Florida , but overall performance is strong. Business travel is still down, with a new report by the American Hotel and Lodging Association and Kalibri Labs forecasting revenue from corporate travel will still be down 25% compared to 2019 by the end of the year. 

Leisure travel is picking up most of this slack though. Data from the Transport Security Authority shows that passenger throughput at U.S. ports is now back to 95% of 2019 levels. 

On the hotel front, North America is one of the strongest regions measured by revenue per available room (RevPAR) data from STR, as we reported in our recently launched State of Travel 2022 report (free to download for non-subscribers here). According to a recent CBRE Hotels State of the Union report, using data from Kalibri Labs, hotel revenue per available room (RevPAR) weakened slightly in August, but was still at 104% of 2019 levels.

Published rates data from our partner OTA Insight shows the continued strength of room rates, which have been around 30% above 2019 levels since February. 

The only weakness then, relates to an expected recession. According to CBRE Hotels’ State of the Union report, a mild recession is expected in 2023, with GDP registering negative growth in the first half of 2023, but then positive growth is projected in the second half of the year. The CBRE team also expects inflation to increase, remaining above the long-run average of 3.3% until 2024. Therefore, while all travel indicators remain strong, wider economic performance is indicating a possible period of weakness which will likely impact travel into 2023 as well.


Data Partners

Skift Research collects and analyzes data from 20 different data partners, to provide the most comprehensive view of the travel industry’s performance. 

Index Design

The Index tracks 84 indicators per country to assess the health of the travel industry in each country. These indicators are aggregated into performance categories and sub-categories. The top level of division is by travel vertical, and each vertical is further divided by intent indicators, booking indicators, and key performance indicators.

The Index covers the following travel sectors:

Country Coverage

The Index focuses on the travel performance in 22 of the largest tourism economies, combined accounting for 62% of inbound tourism receipts, 67% of outbound tourism expenditure, and 78% of global 2019 GDP.

– Argentina

– Australia

– Brazil

– Canada

– China

– France

– Germany

– Hong Kong, China

– India

– Indonesia

– Italy

– Japan

– Mexico

– Russia

– Singapore

– South Africa

– Spain

– Thailand

– Turkey

– U.S.

– United Arab Emirates

– United Kingdom

Index Score Calculation

The Index is designed to provide an easy overview of the health of the travel industry. We have tracked the industry since the beginning of 2020. For 2020, 2021, and 2022 data, the performance of each indicator is compared to the same time in 2019. The Index provides a score relative to a baseline reading of 100 for the same month in 2019.

The full methodology can be found on our website

Data Tables

Total Skift Travel Health Index Scores by Country

Feb 2022Mar 2022Apr 2022May 2022Jun 2022Jul 2022Aug 2022Sep 2022
Hong Kong, China31.931.231.837.141.245.861.656.2
South Africa70.773.877.779.279.077.385.086.7
United Arab Emirates98.497.6102.3113.0104.793.9101.9104.6
United Kingdom86.490.795.799.698.495.398.698.1

Aviation Scores by Country

Feb 2022Mar 2022Apr 2022May 2022Jun 2022Jul 2022Aug 2022Sep 2022
Hong Kong, China8.
South Africa64.168.571.474.775.274.473.172.6
United Arab Emirates84.185.589.297.092.388.185.189.2
United Kingdom76.581.887.289.688.985.986.884.4

Aviation contributes 37.5% to the total score. The scores in this table have been indexed to give a better insight into performance. 100 = pre-pandemic level.

Hotel Scores by Country

Feb 2022Mar 2022Apr 2022May 2022Jun 2022Jul 2022Aug 2022Sep 2022
Hong Kong, China49.937.540.
South Africa74.778.387.083.185.477.494.197.4
United Arab Emirates94.0100.3111.2130.7114.589.6111.2112.2
United Kingdom79.389.899.5105.5106.5103.7102.3103.4

Hotels contributes 32.5% to the total score. The scores in this table have been indexed to give a better insight into performance. 100 = pre-pandemic level.

Vacation Rental Scores by Country

Feb 2022Mar 2022Apr 2022May 2022Jun 2022Jul 2022Aug 2022Sep 2022
Hong Kong, China57.357.156.862.670.875.285.587.3
South Africa81.284.585.988.781.684.781.982.7
United Arab Emirates126.2130.2116.3123.4114.5119.9119.7127.2
United Kingdom132.1133.7139.2134.2131.6129.6126.9131.1

Vacation Rentals contributes 10% to the total score. The scores in this table have been indexed to give a better insight into performance. 100 = pre-pandemic level. 2021 VR data for Argentina missing.

Car Rental Scores by Country

Feb 2022Mar 2022Apr 2022May 2022Jun 2022Jul 2022Aug 2022Sep 2022
Hong Kong, China46.555.758.
South Africa110.096.092.595.197.998.9104.2102.1
United Arab Emirates137.5111.2117.2116.9117.9111.8117.8117.9
United Kingdom115.3103.4100.0102.0101.7100.2112.2113.2

Car Rental contributes 15% to the total score. The scores in this table have been indexed to give a better insight into performance. 100 = pre-pandemic level.

Disclaimer: All rights reserved; content based on data provided by Amadeus, Aviasales, Beyond, CarTrawler, Cendyn, Collinson, Criteo, Duetto, ForwardKeys (Forward Data SL), Hotelbeds, Key Data Dashboard, OAG, Onyx CenterSource, OTA Insight, RateGain, Shiji Group, Skyscanner, Sojern, Transparent, TrustYou. The content and the data provided in this document are for your information and internal use only. The content is provided “as is” without any warranty as to accuracy, completeness, satisfactory quality or fitness for any particular purpose. It is strictly forbidden to extract, reproduce, republish or publicly display any content included in this document without the prior written authorisation of Skift Research. If you wish to use any of this content or similar data, please contact Skift Research for more information.