IBM Report Reveals Potential Rebound for Travel and Event Spending, End of Traditional Shopping Season


ARMONK, N.Y., Oct. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — According to the findings of a new global consumer study released by IBM’s (NYSE: IBM) Institute for Business Value (IBV), respondents are feeling slightly more festive for the 2021 holiday season than they were in 2020, and are reporting higher household budget allocation for travel and local activities. However, the survey suggests COVID-19 pandemic-related concerns are hindering the return of the traditional shopping season

The global survey* of more than 13,000 adult respondents found that while rising vaccination rates have eased restrictions in many places, many people are still carefully considering the safety of socializing, shopping, and traveling, with many global respondents continuing to make choices from a place of caution.

Almost three in four respondents said they’re concerned about new variants of COVID-19, three in five said they’re concerned about interacting with unvaccinated people outside of their families and more than half of those surveyed said they are worried about spending time with unvaccinated family and friends. Holiday shopping budgets are still 13% lower than they were in 2019; however, they did increase 30% year-over-year, and 87% of surveyed consumers say they may shop for the holidays this year, up six points compared to 2020.  

“The most effective industry leaders may be the ones who can meet the customer where, when and how they want,” said Jonathan Wright, Managing Partner & Global VP for Supply Chain Consulting, IBM Consulting. “Based on the survey findings, consumer respondents may continue to demand safety requirements for in-person activities, as well as modern-day fulfillment models such as contactless pick-up, same-day delivery; ship-from-store; buy online, pick up in-store, etc. Deploying artificial intelligence, intelligent automation and analytics across an enterprise can build a more adaptable business that can rapidly respond, pivot, and scale up or down, which may be a pivotal enabler when it comes to this holiday shopping season.”

Noteworthy survey findings include: 

An Earlier Start to the Holiday Shopping Season

Holiday shoppers are concerned about shortages, so to increase their chance of getting everything on their wish lists, more than one in four surveyed adults started shopping in September or earlier. Twice as many people surveyed plan to start in October as compared to last year and just under half of consumers surveyed plan to jumpstart holiday shopping before November, weeks earlier than the traditional “Black Friday” start date in the US. 

Online Shopping Still Reigns

While there is notable demand for local products and merchants, online shopping is likely to hold on to its leadership position this holiday season for those surveyed. This statistic is noteworthy when compared to February 2021 IBV data which found that 73% of surveyed shoppers wanted and expected to return to shopping malls and shopping centers after they were vaccinated. Instead, 43% of consumers surveyed say they plan to buy products online and just 36% surveyed say they plan to buy products in a physical store, citing the increasing concern about new COVID-19 outbreaks and variants.

Holiday Travel & Experiences/Activities could be on the Rebound for 2021

According to the survey, travel is predicted to account for a larger portion of the holiday budgets overall for those surveyed, rising to 8.2% from 5.7% in 2020. Though still lower than it was in 2019, almost 40% of respondents said they plan to travel to see family and friends over the holidays, up from 28% last year. Travel budgets are also on the rebound, up 43% over 2020, with international lodging and air travel budgets growing more than domestic air travel and lodging budgets for those surveyed. Local outings and activities, as well as dining out, may see the biggest lift in 2021 with consumers surveyed planning to spend 30% more in this area than they did last year.

Consumers Still Care About Sustainability

Environmentally friendly products may also have a leg up this holiday season. Four in five consumers surveyed say they may consider sustainability to some extent when they’re shopping for the holidays this year, which is consistent with last year’s survey results. This group plans to change their behavior by avoiding single-use plastics, shopping locally and buying more products locally or made locally.

*IBV Study Methodology
The IBM Institute for Business Value polled more than 13,000 adults across nine countries (Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States), to better understand consumers’ COVID-19 pandemic-related concerns and the impact on how people plan to celebrate the holiday season – how it may affect their perspectives on a number of issues, including retail spending, traveling and future event attendance. The full study is available at: https://www.ibm.com/thought-leadership/institute-business-value/report/2021-holiday-shopping-travel-outlook.

About IBM Institute for Business Value 
The IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) delivers trusted business insights from our position at the intersection of technology and business, combining experience from industry thinkers, leading academics, and subject matter professionals with global research and performance data. The IBV thought leadership portfolio includes research deep dives, benchmarking and performance comparisons, and data visualizations that support business decision making across regions, industries and technologies. Follow @IBMIBV on Twitter, and to receive the latest insights by email, visit: www.ibm.com/ibv.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Tricia Vuiton
IBM Communications
[email protected]

SOURCE IBM



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United Sees Domestic, Transatlantic Business Rebound


Corporate bookings at United Airlines are “moving in the right direction,” with both domestic and transatlantic business travel showing signs of recovery in recent weeks, United CEO Scott Kirby said Wednesday during the carrier’s third-quarter earnings call.

“The effects of the delta [Covid-19] variant on our business was substantial, however we expect the worst of this wave is now past,” United chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella said. “In the last two weeks, we’ve seen several leading business indicators return to where we were in July or better.”

Among those indicators, domestic business travel demand has rebounded to the levels seen before the emergence of the delta variant, with business travel demand from United’s largest corporate accounts increasing at a rate similar to its smallest accounts, he said. Demand has been particularly strong from consulting companies but has been rebounding “across the board” in United’s business sectors, according to Nocella. 

Overall, domestic business travel is nearing the 50 percent market compared with pre-pandemic levels, Nocella said. Delta Air Lines reported a similar rate of rebound last week.

“We have not recovered fully on business traffic and have a long way to go,” he said. “Just looking at the trends of only the last few days, our level of being bullish about this has increased a lot. The numbers for the delta variant caused things to go down quickly, and now that we’re past the delta variant, it appears they’re going to go up hopefully just as quickly.”

With the reopening of U.S. borders to vaccinated European travelers a month away, “business traffic across the Atlantic is now tracking consistent with or slightly better than domestic business traffic,” he added.

The return-to-office plans for United’s corporate customers remains a “hodgepodge,” with “people in general more and more returning to their office environment,” Nocella said. United expects business travel to accelerate next year with “a lot of pent-up demand,” he said.

United reported $6.6 billion in passenger revenue for the quarter, down 36.7 percent compared with the third quarter of 2019. Domestic passenger revenue made up $4.8 billion of that total, with transatlantic routes contributing $840 million in revenues, Latin America routes contributing $743 million and transpacific routes contributing $209 million.

Total revenue for the quarter was $7.8 billion, down 31.9 percent compared with 2019. Cargo revenue was up 84 percent across the same period.

As the rebound continues, Kirby said United’s early action with vaccine mandates would benefit the carrier as it would give travelers a reason to “book with confidence” with United. To date, 99.7 percent of the carrier’s employees opted to get vaccinated, president Brett Hart said.

Kirby said that airlines not pursuing mandates, instead letting employees request exemptions and do regular testing for Covid-19, could find themselves facing operational challenges.

“They’re likely to have tens of thousands of employees that need to be tested every week,” Kirby. “People will forget to do their test, do it wrong, don’t get it done or test positive. If you think weather in one state can lead to a meltdown, imagine if you have thousands of employees calling in on one day and saying their test didn’t pass. This is in the rear-view mirror for United.”

United reported net income of $473 million for the third quarter, which included benefits of federal payroll aid. Adjusted for that and other special items, United’s net loss for the quarter was $329 million, compared with an adjusted net loss of $2.4 billion in the third quarter of 2020.

RELATED: United Q2 earnings



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With theme parks set to rebound, travel advisors share trip tips


Social media personalities Dixie D’Amelio and Noah Beck at Disney California Adventure Park at the Disneyland Resort on May 2, 2021 in Anaheim, California.

Handout | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

The Covid pandemic made the past 14 months a literal roller coaster of a ride for both theme parks and their fans.

Parks shut down or didn’t open at all last spring, and although some did reopen by summer, it was with strict capacity limits and stringent health and safety measures that put off some customers and definitely dented the fun factor for others.

Here’s a look at how things are shaping up in 2021 for this part of the travel and tourism sector, and how prospective visitors can make the most out a theme park vacation as the pandemic winds down.

Pre-pandemic, things had been going well for the sector. The top 20 North American theme parks drew 159,108,000 visitors in 2019, 1% more than the year before, according to the 2019 TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index.

To draw even more visitors, park operators were rolling profits back into much-hyped, big-budget new attractions like the Jurassic World Velocicoaster at Universal Orlando Resort’s Islands of Adventure in Florida and the Marvel-themed Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim.

More from Personal Finance:
What visiting a theme park was like amid the pandemic
How travelers could benefit from hotel industry struggles
What to expect as live music events take to the stage again

People haven’t forgotten those debuts were in the pipeline.

“A lot of families are opting into going to theme parks this year,” said Trish Smith, a Kansas City, Missouri-based travel advisor affiliated with the InteleTravel network of home-based agents. “I’ve actually had more bookings at this point this year than I did in 2019.

“There are so many new attractions coming that a lot of people are like, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to miss out on that, and I want to be the first,'” she added.

Demand is especially pent-up in California, where parks didn’t reopen until this April.

In fact, Michael Erstad, senior analyst, consumer for research firm M Science, said theme parks could see a return to former attendance levels as soon as next year. “I certainly think it’s a possibility,” he said. “It will all depend how things go with the virus for the rest of the year.

“I wouldn’t count [a rebound] out.”

Consumer data insights firm Cardify has found, unsurprisingly, that theme parks saw a big drop in consumer spending last year but “were able to recover a bit” by last summer by reopening with capacity restrictions. Now that cities and states are relaxing pandemic restrictions, parks are seeing what Cardify terms the “silver lining” for park operators — a new “sharp increase” in spending.

Cardify also found in a survey of 1,044 consumers that 72% are excited to return to amusement parks after the pandemic, more so than movie theaters (68%) or bars and clubs (67%). Only in-person concerts (79%) and sporting events (74%) are more eagerly awaited.

Theme parks “are in a much better spot” relative to cinemas, cruises, air travel, hotels and other entertainment options, said Erstad at M Science.

As at ski resorts, at theme parks “a lot of the experience is outdoors,” he said, and therefore less risky in terms of exposure. “You do queue up for rides, but over the last year they’ve made enhancements to improve the purchasing decisions for food and beverage so you do a lot of things electronically.”

So, where are thrill-seekers headed?

There are essentially two theme park markets in the U.S., although there is some crossover between them. Large destination parks — such as Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando, clustered together in central Florida — draw both domestic and international visitors for longer vacations, while regional parks, sometimes smaller and less heavily themed, attract more of a drive-in, day tripper demographic from nearby areas.

Examples of the latter type of park would include the 27 theme and water park properties operated in North America by Grand Prairie, Texas-based Six Flags Entertainment Corp. Some smaller yet highly themed parks, such as Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, straddle the line between the two categories.

(Interestingly, Disneyland boasts a global destination park profile but effectively operates as a regional park, drawing most visitors from its local southern California market. That said, the park — currently restricted to Californians — reopens to all visitors in full on June 15.)

Don’t have any plans set in concrete; you’ve got to be a little flexible right now.

Trish Smith

InteleTravel-affiliated travel advisor

Consumer spending at Orlando parks has been recovering from last year’s crash for months, with out-of-state visitors opening their wallets more than Florida residents, Erstad explained.

“I think it is a healthy sign for Disney and the destination-focused operators, as well as overall consumer appeal for theme parks in general this summer, [and] indicative of consumers seeking out this type of [mostly outdoor] entertainment,” he said.

Florida’s been among the least restrictive states when it comes to pandemic-related regulation, and Orlando area Disney, Universal and SeaWorld parks have all been open since last July. Temporary interstate travel restrictions and quarantine requirements tamped down on long-distance demand for a few months but were eventually eased by year-end.

While interest in Disney’s Orlando parks is strong, “road trips close to home will be very popular this summer for regional theme parks like [Cedar Fair’s] Kings Dominion [and] Cedar Point, Six Flags, Sesame Place, Busch Gardens and Dollywood,” said Carolyn Moody, an InteleTravel advisor in Durham, North Carolina.

The jury’s actually still out on how regional parks will fare, with a lack of real data for climate-related and corporate reasons at some venues, Erstad said.

Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., for example, took four of its 11 theme parks in the U.S. and Canada completely offline for most of 2020, even in jurisdictions that allowed limited opening with restricted capacity, and cut the operating season short in the rest. It had just 487 total operating days in 2020, compared to 2,224 in 2019.

“Cedar Fair has taken more of a conservative approach to things; they were the first to announce they’d honor 2020 pass holders into 20201 and took a cognizant decision to take a more cautious approach,” Erstad said. “It’s a little too early to look at some of your colder weather parks, although we’ve been seeing pretty healthy demand at the parks that are open.”

This year, Sandusky, Ohio-based Cedar Fair plans on opening all its U.S. parks — such as Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Point, California, and Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina — by Memorial Day, although Canada’s Wonderland, outside Toronto, Ontario, will remain closed. The company plans to debut attractions originally planned for 2020 and to spend an additional $100 million on new upgrades this year, said president and CEO Richard A. Zimmerman, in a May 5 statement, in anticipation of “strong pent-up consumer demand for closer-to-home, outdoor entertainment, particularly in the year’s second half.”

“We are pleased with the early leading indicators we have seen thus far, and our 2021 operating strategy is focused on maximizing performance during our seasonally weighted second half of the year,” he added. “With our park openings right around the corner, we are once again seeing a lift in season pass sales.”

Erstad, meanwhile, pointed to Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in Jackson, New Jersey, as a regional park that opened early in the pandemic and did “extremely well last summer.”

“That was just attributable to the fact they have the safari attraction, where you can be in your car with your family and socially distant from others,” he noted.

The park, near New York City and Philadelphia, reopened its safari last May 30 to drivers with reservations, and then reopened its theme park portion at 25% capacity on July 3. The good response points to a lot of “pent-up demand,” Erstad said.

Parks like those of Cedar Fair’s that weren’t open at all last year may see an initial spurt of visits but “I don’t know that they’re going to see a surge in demand the way Disney and some of the other larger parks have experienced,” said Summer Hull, director of travel content at website The Points Guy.

“But I think that for some of the people who typically enjoy going to those spots, this may be the summer they do get back to them,” she added.

Theme park tips and pivots

“The theme parks have done a great job of keeping people safe,” said Smith. “Even with more people being vaccinated, they’re still taking safety into account …so I don’t think there’s going to be a big uptick in cases or anything.”

The Points Guy’s Hull has been to Walt Disney World three times since it reopened and said “it’s been a blast.”

“It’s largely outdoors and they’ve done a great job of making it feel fun and at the same time safe in your own little ‘Disney bubble,'” she said.

Also be open to change. “That’s the biggest thing,” Smith said. “Don’t have any plans set in concrete; you’ve got to be a little flexible right now.”

Hull agreed and said theme park guests who do their homework will have a great time this summer. “But those who assume it’s just business as usual are going to have a few surprises awaiting them,” she said, noting that many parts of larger destination parks — from hotels to restaurants to rides — are still not online or operating at normal capacities.

“You’ve got to line some stuff up in a way you might not have before and still go in with tempered expectations for things around dining, housekeeping and other elements that are still sort of pandemic-era and haven’t gotten back to normal yet.”

 (Disclosure: CNBC and Universal Parks & Resorts are both subsidiaries of NBCUniversal, owned by parent Comcast.)



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TMC bosses report encouraging business travel rebound


Travel management company Gray Dawes Travel says transactions have now recovered to more than half of pre-Covid volumes, with consistent growth in recent weeks.

Addressing delegates at last week’s ABTA Travel Convention, Gray Dawes CEO Suzanne Horner said: “In week 28 of our financial year in 2019 we did £3.4 million of business in a week. In week 28 of 2021, last week, we did £1.7 million. We’re back to 50 per cent.”

Horner also noted that the TMC had made more hotel bookings and generated more income from accommodation bookings in August and September this year than it had in 2019.

Meanwhile, Mark Colley, managing director of Sunways Business Travel, said he expects revenues to recover faster than booking volumes due to a move towards fewer but longer trips.

Colley said revenue growth is escalating quickly, with September 2021 at 40 per cent of 2019 levels and October already exceeding 40 per cent, with the TMC therefore increasing its Q4 projection from 45 per cent to 53 per cent.

“Travel is going to be much more considered. Corporate travel has changed indefinitely and those hour-long meetings in Zurich might now be done over Zoom and that makes perfect sense. There’s a positive impact for the environment,” said Colley.

He continued: “We are experiencing higher revenue-per-trip than 2019 levels due to extended trip durations and an increased demand for ancillary services, as well as higher airfares, driven largely by an increase in demand being met by still limited, albeit improving, capacity – a scenario we expect to continue into at least the first quarter of 2022.”

Speaking on the subject of ‘leadership in extraordinary times’, Gray Dawes’ Horner described how the TMC had gone into the pandemic. “We went from generating £200 million topline to £12 million and we had 250 staff and eight offices and a costbase that was now out of control. We had been flying high, life was good, we’d acquired companies, and we were signing new business.”

Ten years ago the business was turning over £30 million and losing £500,000 a year, said Horner, who has overseen nine acquisitions in the last four years.

“From £200 million sales in 2019 we were approaching £10 million profit and that’s what I promised my chairman year on year. But we all know what happened then.”

She described the 18 months since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic as “utter hell” but believes the industry must move on swiftly.

“We now need to forget about the past. When we came through the 2008-09 financial crisis, how many years did we spend saying ‘when are we going to get back to 2007 numbers?’? Are we going to spend the next five years asking ourselves when we’re going to get back to 2019 numbers? 2019 has gone and we now need to think about what we do with what we’ve got and move forwards.”

She continued: “We will make a profit this financial year. We made a loss last year – the first time I’ve made a loss in ten years. I will not make a loss again. It’s the most soul-destroying experience ever even though I couldn’t help it. It really did hurt. But we have a plan and we’ll execute it; we’re shifting to [preparing for] the mid and longer term. £10m profit… the target is huge, but we will get back to it. It will take a few years but we will do it.”



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Boeing predicts rebound in Middle East aviation | News


Boeing has found that airlines in the Middle East will require 3,000 new airplanes valued at $700 billion over the next two decades.

That is added to aftermarket services, such as maintenance and repair, worth $740 billion.

The manufacturer said the region is positioned to capitalise on the recovery of international travel and cargo demand.

Boeing provided the estimate in its 2021 Commercial Market Outlook (CMO), a forecast of 20-year demand for commercial airplanes and services.

Middle East passenger traffic and the region’s commercial fleet are projected to more than double over the 20-year forecast period, according to the CMO.

More than two-thirds of airplane deliveries to the Middle East will accommodate growth, while one-third of deliveries will replace older airplanes with more fuel-efficient models.

“The Middle East region’s role as a global connecting hub continues to be important for developing markets to and from south-east Asia, China and Africa,” said Randy Heisey, Boeing managing director of commercial marketing for the Middle East.

“The region has been a leader in restoring confident passenger travel through multi-faceted initiatives that aid international travel recovery.”

Air freight represents an ongoing area of opportunity for Middle East airlines, with the freighter fleet projected to nearly double from 80 airplanes in 2019 to 150 by 2040.

Notably, air cargo traffic flown by Middle East carriers has increased since 2020 by nearly 20 per cent, with two of the world’s top-five cargo carriers based in the region.





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Large events help Raleigh tourism rebound, but business travel slow to return


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – While the return of flagship events has brought thousands of visitors back to Raleigh, tourism experts say the city won’t see pre-pandemic tourism levels until business travel returns.

Major events that were canceled or moved online last year are finally making a comeback.

Thousands of people are now pouring into the North Carolina State Fair and earlier this month, bluegrass lovers lined five city blocks in Raleigh for the International Bluegrass Music Association Festival.

Loren Gold, executive vice president for Visit Raleigh, said the city won’t hit pre-pandemic tourism numbers with vacationers or one-time events alone.

“Leisure does make up our mix but it’s probably about a third of our total mix,” Gold said.

With more companies taking operations online, Gold said it’s business travel that has been slow to make a comeback in large cities like Raleigh.

“Business travel took a huge spike downward because companies were not sending their people on the road,” Gold said.

Counties with the state’s largest cities saw some of the biggest dips in visitor spending last year. Wake County visitors spent more than 42 percent less in 2020 than 2019.

Still, the latest data from Visit Raleigh shows food and beverage tax revenue is up 36 percent from last year and hotel occupancy is also up by 48 percent.

“They’re all up, it’s just a matter of getting back to pre-pandemic, 2019 levels,” Gold said.



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United adding European destinations ahead of summer travel rebound


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Chicago-based United Airlines is adding five new transatlantic destinations in Spring 2022 as it prepares for a potential bounce back in summer travel between the United States and Europe next year.

The expansion would be the largest transatlantic expansion in the company’s history and includes destinations in Spain, Portugal, Norway, the Spanish Canary Islands and Jordan.

“Given our big expectations for a rebound in travel to Europe for summer, this is the right time to leverage our leading global network in new, exciting ways,” Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of international network and alliances at United, said in a Thursday news release. 

United will be the first North American carrier to fly to the five new destinations.  

  • Bergen, Norway: Starting May 20, United will offer flights three times a week between New York/Newark and Bergen on a Boeing 757-200. 
  • Azores, Portugal: Flights between New York/Newark and Ponta Delgada in the Azores begin May 13 with a new Boeing 737 MAX 8. This will be United’s third Portuguese destination, along with flights to Porto (which return in March) and Lisbon (which are being operated from New York and are set to resume from Washington, D.C. next summer).
  • Palma de Mallorca, Spain: Travelers can fly from New York/Newark to the beach destination in the Balearic Islands in a Boeing 767-300ER starting June 2. United will offer flights three times a week. 
  • Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands: United is set to launch a new flight from New York/Newark to the Tenerife on June 9, offering service three times a week via a Boeing 757-200. 
  • Amman, Jordan: Flights from Washington, D.C. to Amman begin May 5 with service three-times-weekly with a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. 

Tickets for Bergen, Azores, Palma de Mallorca and Tenerife go on sale Thursday, and Amman tickets should follow soon after. 

The airline is also adding new flights to five European destinations (Berlin, Dublin, Milan, Munich and Rome) “in anticipation of a resurgence in visitors” and relaunching seven routes that had been paused during the pandemic to Bangalore, Frankfurt, Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, Nice and Zurich, all of which are subject to government approval. 

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The expansion would follow the launch of a new air travel system in the U.S. in early November that will ease travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nations.

While international flight capacity saw gains this year, it has a ways to go before catching up to pre-pandemic levels. International passenger demand dropped 76% between 2019 and 2020, the sharpest traffic decline in aviation history according to the International Air Transport Association.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz





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Breeze Airways launches with Spirit pricing and JetBlue niceness, just in time for travel’s rebound


“I really didn’t want to launch in the heat of covid,” Neeleman, whose most recent start-up airline was the Brazilian carrier Azul in 2008, said in an interview in April. “When we saw that vaccines were kind of on the horizon, I said, ‘Let’s just slow our roll a little bit and try to hit this thing, try to get the timing right.’”



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Summer travel rebound continues at Orlando International Airport


The airport saw more than 3.5 million travelers.

Travelers line up to go through a TSA checkpoint at Orlando International Airport before the Memorial Day weekend Friday, May 28, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Travelers line up to go through a TSA checkpoint at Orlando International Airport before the Memorial Day weekend Friday, May 28, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Summer travel made an impressive rebound in Central Florida this past August.

More than 3.5 million travelers came through the Orlando International Airport. This is a 210% increase from last year, according to a release from the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

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Compared to numbers before the pandemic, traffic decreased by 15%.

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Domestic travel increased by 196.73% in August, and international travel increased by 1,300% in the last year.




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Flughafen Zuerich chairman sees business travel rebound in 2022 -paper


ZURICH (Reuters) – The chairman of airport operator Flughafen Zuerich expects business travel to rebound next year, he told a newspaper, adding the Swiss group remained financially sound despite the hit from the coronavirus epidemic.

“My personal assessment is I don’t think we will see a big recovery in business travel this year. But in 2022 there will be a strong upward trend,” Andreas Schmid told the Tages-Anzeiger paper in an interview published on Monday.

He said it was important to offer as many direct connections as possible to the whole world. “However, some destinations will be served less often than before. Perhaps only one plane will take off a day where three used to,” he added.

He noted the group’s cash situation was “very good” and it was well capitalised.

“We need at least 50% of the pre-pandemic air traffic to be in the black. According to our forecasts, we are at that point in December. We are in a stable, solid position,” he said.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)



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