SINGAPORE, 8 December 2022: With the big festive getaway about to begin, new bookings insights revealed by Sabre show improving travel confidence and the emerging festive destinations of choice for global travellers.
Sabre analytics reveal that booking windows for the holiday period are nearing pre-pandemic levels, while Christmas and New Year bookings have soared compared to last year.
Booking windows and improved confidence
A deep dive into Sabre’s booking trends (of bookings made to the end of October) shows that 60% of bookings for the holiday period were made in September and October this year versus 55% in 2019. While a higher percentage of bookings were made closer to the holidays this year, the gap is narrowing between 2022 and 2019.
Booking windows can be a significant metric for determining traveller confidence, as a longer booking window may indicate greater confidence. During the pandemic, there was a higher percentage of last-minute bookings believed to be due to uncertainties of travel and border restrictions. Travellers were often less keen to make advanced bookings as they were unsure if the travel situation would change when their departure date arrived. Now, with a more predictable travel landscape, people are generally more willing to make longer-term plans as it is more likely for the trip to proceed as planned.
Looking at international trips originating from the USA, where travel restrictions were lifted much earlier than in other regions, a clear recovery picture emerges.
29% of international festive bookings (of bookings made to the end of October) were made during September and October in 2022, compared to 38% in 2021 and 27% in 2019.
In Asia, 76% of all bookings (bookings made to the end of October), both domestic and international, for the year-end holidays this year were made in September and October, in line with when travel restrictions began to further unwind across the region.
In 2019, around 55% of bookings were made in the same months. Recovery in APAC has been particularly pronounced in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where travel restrictions have recently been relaxed. Hong Kong bookings started Q3 at just 16% of the same period in 2019. By the end of the third quarter, the recovery there was 29%. Taiwan is an even better story, with the quarter starting at a 17% recovery and ending at 45%.
Festive season destination trends
Sabre’s booking analysis shows most travellers are opting for destinations close to home for the upcoming holiday period, with 33% of global travellers choosing domestic travel, compared to 27% in 2019. Key destination trends include:
Almost half (47%) of passengers travelling internationally from the US, as part of a family or couple, have booked to go to Mexico or the Caribbean for the holidays.
67% of those travelling from Asia are choosing to stay within Asia. This was higher (70%) in 2019, with the drop likely due to ongoing border closures in China.
The top destinations for Asia are Japan, followed by Thailand, making up close to a third of bookings. Some travellers who may have previously gone to China have switched to Japan or Thailand, as Japan, Thailand, and China together used to make up a third of trips in 2019.
Globally, the US, Mexico and Japan are among the top destinations for both couples and families in both 2019 and 2022.
Family travellers globally are increasingly opting to travel to the United Arab Emirates, whereas Thailand is a popular destination for those travelling as a couple.
For those travelling from North America as a family or couple, emerging top destinations are Costa Rica and Italy, respectively.
Vietnam and China were among the top 10 destinations globally in 2019, but both fell beyond the top 10 this year, giving way to the Dominican Republic and Canada.
While Thailand remains within the top 10 global destinations for the festive season, it has dropped from the third to the fifth spot.
Fewer travellers from India are choosing Vietnam this year, compared to 2019, while fewer Japanese travellers are choosing Thailand.
Top 10 festive travel destinations globally
So, what are the most booked top 10 trips global travellers are taking this festive season?
10th Place: India to UAE
With eased travel restrictions, affordable accommodation options and short travel times between the two countries, the UAE is a popular destination for Indian travellers looking to spend time with their partners and family.
9th Place: Canada to Mexico
With an under five-hour flight, Mexico is a popular getaway destination for Canadian travellers looking for affordable holiday options.
8th Place: South Korea to Thailand
South Korea is a major inbound source market for Thailand, with the Thai tourism body expecting to attract more than 500,000 Koreans this year and over 1.3 million during 2023.
7th Place: US to Jamaica
With Jamaica only a short flight from the US, it is always popular amongst Americans looking to trade the cold winter for sun, sand, and blue seas.
6th Place: UK to the US
The US is a major tourist destination for many countries worldwide. Historically a strong source region for the US, inbound tourism from the UK continues to look strong in 2022.
5th Place: South Korea to Vietnam
Many Korean tourists travel to Vietnam due to its proximity and frequent direct flights. The government of Vietnam has also made efforts to promote the country as a tourist destination and attract more visitors from South Korea.
4th Place: US to Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is another popular beach getaway promising sunshine and relaxation to US tourists nearby and at affordable rates.
3rd Place: Canada to the US
With a short flight time, the US is an extremely sought-after getaway for Canadians looking for an affordable holiday this festive season.
2nd Place: South Korea to Japan
Japan, one of the last few countries globally to unravel travel restrictions, is a popular destination for many travellers globally, so it’s little wonder to see so many inbound tourists from neighbouring South Korea.
1st Place: US to Mexico
The US is also a natural destination for Mexico due to the proximity of the countries.