Leisure travel agencies are surging thanks to the demand for vacations and leisure travel. (photo via Apple Leisure Group)
They say three times makes a trend. How about eight weeks?
According to the latest data from the Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), last week marked the eighth consecutive week – dating back to February 13 – that U.S. leisure travel agencies have outperformed transactions by online travel agencies (OTAs) when compared to 2019.
That’s the year the industry uses as its benchmark to gauge its comeback from the pandemic that began in March of 2020.
Our sister publication, Travel Weekly, noted that for the week ending April 3 leisure agencies, tour operators and cruise lines recorded just seven percent fewer transactions than they did during the same week in 2019. By contrast, online travel agencies recorded 18.1 percent less business.
The numbers suggest what many already know – leisure travel and vacations have been, and continue to be, the first sector of the industry to bounce back from the pandemic. That has led travel observers to believe a huge summer awaits.
“Travelers are looking to travel agencies now a little bit more than they did in 2019,” Chuck Thackston, ARC’s managing director of data science, told Travel Weekly. “Due to restrictions and the potential need to change trips, there has been an increased demand for travel agents, frankly.”
But the number of air ticket transactions completed by travel management companies (TMCs) was down 33.2 percent compared with 2019, reflecting that business travel is still down.