Almost one-in-three industry bosses does not expect the travel sector to get back to 2019 levels before 2024 at the earliest, according to the WTM London Industry Report released today.
A global sample of some 250 respondents revealed that most expect 2019 levels to return some time during 2023, with 53% expecting recovery some time during the year. Most of this group see Jan-March and June-Sept identified as the periods in which parity with 2019 will be reached. A single-digit percentage of respondents expect 2019 levels this quarter.
However, 24% of the sample expect current trade to remain below 2019 levels for the rest of 2022 and for all of 2023, expecting a full recovery to come some time in 2024. Just under one-in-ten (9%) suggested a recovery timeline stretching beyond 2024.
By region, businesses on continental Europe are among the most concerned, with 40% not expecting to see 2019 levels until 2024. Looking even further ahead, respondents from the UK were most likely be looking beyond 2024 for recovery.
Overall, 60% of respondents acknowledged their business has picked up since the pandemic without getting to 2019 levels, with 40% still struggling. Many of the current headwinds will carry over into next year. When asked to specify one area of concern for 2023, the cost of living crisis emerged as the most worrisome by some distance, identified by 45% of the sample. The cost of petrol (15%) and the war in Ukraine (11%) emerged as potential issues threatening the 2023 recovery.
The impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine is already starting to impact business for whom Russian and Ukrainian outbound travelers was an important source market. Across the globally sourced sample, 40% admitted that the war was having an effect on their business.
Juliette Losardo, WTM Exhibition Director, said:
“The recovery from the pandemic is under way, but the results of our survey show that many travel bosses do not expect 2019 levels to return just yet. The geo-political and macro-economic situation remains a concern for many but does not appear to be dampening the optimism of those businesses which are expecting a full recovery in 2023.
“WTM London is there to help the industry negotiate the current difficulties by facilitating face to face meetings between buyers and suppliers, and through an impressive line-up of informative and educational panels, keynotes and presentations across four stages.”