ITB Berlin and IPK International reveals significant recovery in 2022

 Wednesday, March 1, 2023 


In 2022 the travel industry experienced a significant recovery. Worldwide, outbound trips increased substantially year on year, but without regaining 2019 levels. Variations were evident with regard to individual continents, destinations and travel markets. Whereas outbound travel in Asia lagged far behind pre-pandemic levels, international trips of Europeans and Americans were much closer to 2019 figures. In 2023, despite all the crises and uncertainties, interest in travel abroad is consistently high, so that very little stands in the way of international tourism recovering further in 2023.

Significant increase in outbound travel in 2022

IPK’s World Travel Monitor stated that worldwide, outbound travel in 2022 rose by 90 per cent year on year, equivalent to a global volume of almost 700 million trips in 2022. Compared to outbound travel before the pandemic in 2019, this is 66 per cent of pre-crisis levels. Thus, 2022 represented a significant turnaround towards recovery. Looking at individual continents, trends varied however. International travel from Europe rose by 92 per cent, from North America by 87 per cent and from South America by 70 per cent. These growth rates resulted in outbound travel almost fully recovering or reaching three-quarters of previous levels. International travel from Asia remained substantially below 2019 figures, while still showing a 90 per cent year-on-year increase in 2022. The difference in trends compared with other continents was mainly the result of tight Covid-19 policy restrictions in China, which is the largest source market. Outbound travel in 2022 was highest in the USA, followed by Germany and the UK.

Most popular destinations in 2022

With regard to destinations, sun and beach holidays in Turkey and Spain were especially popular, almost regaining 2019 levels. Year on year, the UK also reported high three-digit growth rates above the global average. Overall in 2022, many destinations hardest-hit by pandemic restrictions in 2020 and 2021 attained above-average results. .

According to the Destination Performance Index (DPI) developed by IPK, in 2022 the most popular travel destination was the Maldives. In the case of all international holiday trips the World Travel Monitor® asked whether travellers were satisfied with their trip, would recommend it to others and whether they would return, and evaluated the results. The winner Maldives was followed by Dubai and Cyprus in second and third place.

Keen interest in holidays – sun and beach destinations top the list

In 2022, with a market share of 70 per cent, holiday trips were again the main reason for travel, and compared to 2021 showed higher growth than business travel and even other private trips. In the business travel market, MICE trips in particular displayed a significant year-on-year upward trend. In 2022, within the holiday travel market, sun and beach trips were the most popular holiday worldwide at over 90 per cent growth (overall market share: 35 per cent), with city breaks in second place. In addition to city breaks, round trips also made above-average gains. Holidays in nature (in the countryside or mountains), which experienced a considerable boom during the pandemic, also remained highly popular in 2022 and increased their market share.

Transport choices and sustainability

Concerning transport choices, in 2022 the following global trends became apparent: while international air travel increased significantly again, compared with 2021 it lagged far behind pre-pandemic levels in 2019. As in previous years, most international travel took place by air (market share: 60 per cent). Growth in car travel was slightly below average compared with 2021. Rail travel growth was significantly above average. This was mirrored by the survey findings on sustainable travel. Thus, around 20 per cent of interviewees said sustainability / environmental considerations had influenced their choice of transport for an outbound trip in 2022. The importance of this topic was also reflected in the new IPK NEXT Media study, powered by press relations NewsRadar, which examined international media reporting in the context of holidays and travel in 2022. It analysed the extent to which the media reported on sustainable travel. What can be seen is that in 2022 the media very frequently reported on aspects of sustainable travel. In the German media, 25 per cent of tourism reporting addressed the topic of sustainability.

Higher travel expenses in 2022

In 2022, while the average duration of an international trip was almost the same as before the pandemic, according to the World Travel Monitor travel expenses per person and trip rose significantly again. In 2022, average spending per night and person was around 165 euros. Stays became shorter – their duration reaching almost pre-pandemic levels – due to an above-average growth in short breaks (one to three nights). These suffered a much greater decline over the last two years of the pandemic. Increases in travel spending resulted above all from higher travel costs, due to inflation and the reduced availability of flights and services. By contrast, the World Travel Monitor’s findings showed hardly any change in outbound travellers’ incomes.

Recovery set to continue in 2023

According to the IPK’s surveys, this positive trend will continue in 2023, and globally the outbound travel figures for 2019 are within reach, at least as far as the majority of source markets, travel destinations and markets are concerned. The latest survey results reflect a virtually uninterrupted desire for international travel in 2023.

Visitors to the ITB Berlin Convention 2023 will gain further industry-specific insights. In 200 sessions more than 400 experts will exchange views on the current tasks and challenges facing the tourism industry at the leading think tank for the travel industry from 7 – 9 March.

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