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Travel is Back: Skift Travel Health Index Reaches Record High

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Skift Take

Skift Research reports complete travel recovery as the current Travel Health Index has topped 100, indicating that global tourism is now performing better than it did before the pandemic. Every region in the index has grown, and meeting professionals must take note.

Travel performance has surpassed 2019 levels for the first time since the pandemic, according to the just-released Skift Travel Health Index that increased by 2 percentage points over March 2023 and now stands at 101, indicating complete travel recovery when looking at the global average. This is a record with the index passing the level last reached in 2019. 

The Travel Health Index is a proprietary tool produced by Skift Research to track the travel industry’s performance using 84 travel indicators with data from 22 partners. 

At its lowest point, the Index hit 20 in April 2020, which indicated that travel performance had dropped to 20 percent of levels in April 2019. The Index covers travel performance since January 2020, up to and including April 2023.

“We started tracking the performance of the travel industry back when it was at its lowest and darkest point. The Index tracks the performance of 22 countries and four main travel sectors within each — aviation, hotels, short-term rentals, and car rental. We compare current performance against the same month in 2019 and use data from 22 data partners to get a very holistic view of recovery,” said Wouter Geerts, Skift’s director of research. 

The Index is a powerful tool for the meetings and events industry as it helps with strategic planning. “It’s a great moment for the travel industry to see that our global index score is now back to 100, meaning that performance is back to pre-pandemic levels,” said Geerts.

Hidden behind that number, however, are some nuances. “Not every country has recovered, with some overperformers making up for continued weakness in other countries. And similarly, not every travel sector is fully recovered,” said Geerts. “But we are seeing that demand has returned very strongly since the beginning of 2023, and continued high prices have contributed strongly to full recovery. Seat capacity on airlines is slowly returning to what it was before the pandemic, and a strongly performing short-term rental industry has increased the availability of accommodation supply. All these indicators are extremely important for event planners to stay on top of, to understand the dynamics between demand and supply between different destinations and source markets.”

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

2023 brings two additional data partners into the fold. TravelgateX has started to provide pricing data for hotel stays, and Nium now provides transaction values for flights.

Other data partners include 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

More analysis can be found in Skift’s April 2023 Highlights report and the Skift Travel Health Index data dashboard.