While Covid has been responsible for explosive growth in overall e-commerce, some sectors were devastated by the pandemic and still have not fully recovered. Travel, for both business and leisure, is perhaps the most notable. Lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic completely shuttered travel and surges brought on by the Delta and Omicron variants have prevented travel from returning to pre-pandemic levels.
In addition to revenue and profits cratering for many travel-related companies, chargebacks have been more challenging than ever as plans have been canceled in record numbers. Cross-border travel has been especially hard hit as restrictions vary from country to country.
American Express, Mastercard and Visa have been monitoring spending on travel closely and all three weighed in with predictions about how quickly travel might rebound as they announced quarterly results at the end of January.
Amex noted that travel bookings have increased since the beginning of January, but warns that many large companies still maintain travel restrictions and will not recover to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year. Visa said international travel will recover through 2022, but won’t return to normal until the summer of 2023.
Mastercard was most optimistic of the three. It noted the relative weakness of the Omicron variant and that many countries are beginning to open their borders to more travel, predicting the industry will reach 2019 levels by the end of this year.