How Mastercard supports the travel industry

Mastercard provides consumer and businesses with payment products and infrastructure to complete their financial transactions. In 2020, it launched the Mastercard Economics Institute to analyse macroeconomic information through the lens of the consumer. Natalia Lechmanova is  Senior Economist at this research organization, and recently at Forward_Travel we interviewed her to learn about the latest trends in travel.


1. Tourism is expected to experience robust growth this year following two whole years of pandemic. What is your outlook?

That is right, our “Travel 2022: Trends and Transitions” report shows that the return to normality has pushed global flight bookings above 2019 levels. If flight booking trends continue at the current pace, 1.5 billion more passengers worldwide will fly in 2022 than last year.

Meanwhile, global cruise spending grew 62 percentage points from January to the end of April, although it remains below 2019 levels. Buses have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, while spending on train tickets per passenger remains 7% below. In addition, spending on road tolls and car rental went up by almost 19% and 12%, respectively, compared to 2021.

This is because positive pandemic developments and the return to normality in many countries have boosted travel bookings. As a result, the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands are now the top destinations for tourists from all over the world. In Spain, for instance, spending on restaurants has grown by 174% and 117% on accommodation, compared to 2021 according to our latest “Spending Pulse” report, published in June.


2. According to your data, has the pandemic changed the way tourists spend money?

Our Spending Pulse report states that international tourists spent more on experiences than on souvenirs when compared with 2021. Experiential spending is now 34% above 2019 levels. Whilst bars and nightclubs (72%) and amusement parks, museums, concerts and other recreational activities (35%) are the areas showing the largest increase in spending.

Interestingly, the report shows that people still prefer shopping in physical stores, though online shopping is growing worldwide. In Spain, face-to-face shopping has increased by 57% compared to 2021, being the market with the highest growth followed by the United Kingdom (42%) and France (35%). On the other hand, online sales have only grown slightly in Hungary (10%) and Spain (2.5%) this year, while in the rest of the markets it has gone down slightly. All the same, online sales in most markets are above pre-pandemic levels.


3. What role does Mastercard play in the travel industry?

Mastercard offers peace of mind and benefits for consumers and businesses of all sizes as they welcome travellers back. Whether it is a trip nearby or faraway, our cardholders have access to a growing list of programmes, platforms and partnerships such as Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle and Mastercard Travel Rewards.

We also help the global travel industry with different services, such as market analysis and high-frequency data insights so that the sector can understand changing consumer trends. Thanks to our marketing solutions and consumer engagement strategies, companies can drive brand loyalty and maximize bookings. These services enable travel operators to make data-driven decisions, retain high-value consumers and engage existing ones.

For further information about the role Mastercard plays in the travel industry, click here.

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