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COVID-19 Impact on Global Online Travel Market 2021

The online travel market, on par with the whole travel industry was largely affected by the restrictions imposed worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, in the United States, online travel sales value in 2020 constituted only half of the figure projected for 2020 before the health crisis and the gross bookings value of online travel agencies in the country experience a sharp downturn as well.

Nevertheless, there are also some signs of recovery, as three out of five travelers worldwide planned to spend more on a trip in 2021 since they could not travel in 2020. Moreover, despite a substantial fall in travel-related app usage last year, the future looks brighter: it is forecasted to increase again, and for some categories even outpace the pre-pandemic levels. In Asia-Pacific, furthermore, by 2025, in some of the fastest-growing economies, including Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea, the overall per capita digital travel expenditures were predicted to rise substantially.

In Europe, despite the presence of major global OTAs, direct online bookings still play an important role, as about one-third of the hotels bookings in 2020 were made online directly. The share was smaller for select Latin American countries, however, the OTAs’ contribution to bookings was less, as compared to Europe. In the Middle East, when it comes to renting accommodation for holidays, the share of direct bookings on official hotel websites was comparable to this on the OTAs.

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