A “Revenge Travel” that does not weaken

After two years of health crisis, travelers intend to make up for lost time and the desire to travel the world does not weaken, despite a complex economic context. Globally, leisure travel remains robust, up about 31% in March 2023 compared to the same period in 2019, according to observations from the Mastercard Economics Institute. High-income consumers, supported by rising wages and a savings glut of $1.7 trillion in the United States and €1 trillion in Europe, are driving consumer spending. In France too, demand for leisure-related travel remains relatively strong, with flight bookings up 21.3% compared to 2019 (versus 31% worldwide; 74% in the United Kingdom; -18.5 % in Germany), according to data from this study. However, some French travel operators observed a soft landing in May, which could be due to the end of the spring school holidays for Parisians, and the many bridges.

China: the reopening is a game-changer

After having put its tourism under glass for three years due to the Covid, China has gradually reopened its borders. A new deal that will have repercussions on the travel industry on a global scale, but also on the global economy. According to the latest estimates from the Mastercard Economics Institute, inflation and high interest rates are expected to depress global real GDP growth to 2.8% year-on-year through 2023, from 3.4% l last year. “Given the possibility of a slowdown in the United States and Europe, the reopening of mainland China could provide a much-needed boost to global growth,” the study notes. A reopening that will primarily benefit the economies of ASEAN and other regions of the Asia-Pacific region. To a lesser extent, France should also benefit from this reopening indicates the study, which also anticipates a strong enthusiasm for this market for luxury travel.

New Horizons

When it comes to making trade-offs in spending, travelers favor experiences (restaurants, leisure activities, casinos, nightclubs, bars and other events) over the purchase of material goods (purchases in stores , clothing, cosmetics, sporting goods, books, electronic equipment, toys…) reports the study, which also notes a new appetite “for what is unique”, with a propensity to venture into lesser-known destinations, quest for cultural immersion. French spending on experiences is up 70% compared to 2019 (vs 65% globally; 27.2% in the UK) while spending on material goods is up 23%, 7% (vs 12% worldwide; -11.7% in the UK). Inflation partly explains this surge.

Trending destinations: Asia-Pacific and the United States set the tone

Popular travel destinations in 2023 are influenced by travelers from Asia-Pacific and the United States, the study notes. Northeast Asian markets, particularly mainland China and Hong Kong, are expected to take off, while India, Australia and New Zealand are forecasting more moderate expansion. A strong US consumer base and sustained interest in tourism will drive Americans to travel to Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. “Tourism-focused European countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece could benefit disproportionately from global tourist arrivals,” the study anticipates.

Europeans want to travel further…

Focusing on the travel intentions of Europeans, the most popular tourist destinations remain broadly the same as last year. With a few changes, however: we note the absence of Portugal in this ranking (it appeared there a year ago), when the United States climbs one place, underlining a growing desire among travelers to venture further from home, according to the study.

… and further north

Memories of the summer of 2023 and its terrible fires influence the choice of travel destinations, according to the study, which finds that “weather conditions have led to subtle changes in where people spend their summers. Extreme heat waves and the risk of wildfires in southern Europe have prompted travelers to explore the north of the continent, including the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the Germany “.

Saudi Arabia makes a name for itself

Over the spring and summer, for the first time since the creation of this report, Saudi Arabia has made its way into the top 10. This emerging destination, still in full structuring within the framework of the Vision 2030 project, ranks in 8th place among destinations popular with travelers from the Middle East and Africa, ahead of Canada and Italy, which close the ranking.

Heading for France

France is present in the top 10 popular destinations in several markets according to Mastercard data. It ranks 8th for the United States / Canada zone, ahead of its usual big rival, Spain, Colombia, but is overtaken by three of its close neighbors, the United Kingdom, Italy and Italy. Germany. The competition looks tough. On the European market, France occupies 6th place. It is 8th for the Africa/Middle East zone, but does not appear in the top 10 for the Asia-Pacific zone of this ranking.

The Mastercard Economics Institute was launched in 2020 to analyze macroeconomic trends through the lens of the consumer leveraging insights from Mastercard – including Mastercard SpendingPulse™ – and third-party data.