Collection Of Travel Statistics For 2021

March 11, 2022
Kasi McGurk
4 min read

With the easing up of pandemic-related restrictions, 2021 saw a general increase in travel. But how did it compare to pre-pandemic travel? And what kind of travel saw the best rebound?

Currently, more than 90% of travelers in the US plan to travel within the next six months. And as of January, 79% of US companies plan to conduct business travel in the next 90 days.  

This indicates that the travel industry is recovering, although it will take time to get back to pre-pandemic levels.

In this article, we have put together a collection of travel and tourism statistics for 2020 and 2021. By doing a retrospect on the year, we can take our findings and use them to help shape industry conversations and operations in 2022. 

Together with the resources at our academy, geared specifically at professionals in the travel industry, you’ll make your business a success in 2022 and beyond. 

Travel In 2020 and 2021: Years In Retrospect

In certain sectors, travel data seemed to be approaching pre-pandemic levels by December 2021. 

This seems to be confirmed by statistics from Statista, the US Travel Association, the Bureau Of Transportation (BTS), and the International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Here’s a glimpse at the numbers as 2021 drew to a close.

Industry Overview For 2021

The travel and tourism industry generated almost $9.2 trillion for the global economy in 2019. The pandemic negatively impacted this sector, causing a loss of nearly $4.5 trillion in 2020, a drop of 49.1%.

The global passenger traffic numbers for 2021 indicated that demand fell by 58.4% compared to 2019. This was, however, a great improvement to 2020, when demand decreased by 65.8% versus 2019.

Travel Agency Sector Up By Around 60% From 2020

The market size of the US travel agency sector plunged to $20.69 billion in 2020 from 2019’s total of $56.96 billion. In 2021, it was predicted to start climbing again to reach $34.64 billion.

OTAs Saw Slightly Slower Growth 

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was also strongly felt by the online travel agency sector. 


The global revenue of Tripadvisor dropped significantly in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. In 2021, it saw an increase of roughly 49% over the previous fiscal year. Overall, their revenue worldwide amounted to $902 million in 2021. 

Airbnb, which had experienced fantastic growth over the last few years, saw its worldwide gross booking value drop from $35 billion at the start of 2020 to $18 billion in May 2020.

The two biggest online travel agencies by revenue worldwide in 2020 were Booking Holdings and Expedia. 

These companies generated almost $7 billion and more than $5 billion, respectively. Both companies’ revenues had more than halved compared to 2019. 

Expenditure On Flights And Other Forms Of Travel Nearly At Pre-Pandemic Levels In The US

Travel expenditure reached almost pre-pandemic levels In December 2021. 

Total spending on transport amounted to $92 billion, which indicated a drop of only 2% below the numbers for December 2019. This was the highest it’s been since the onset of the pandemic.

Domestic airline passenger demand accounted for 62.4% of the total market in 2021.

US Scheduled Service Airline Passengers increased by 83% in 2021 from the numbers in 2020, a decrease of 27% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. 


According to the statistics available for US airline-operated flights in the US (BTS) airline schedules and operations were dramatically affected by the pandemic, and this could be seen in August.

The 592,760 flights operated in August 2021 were only 84.1% of the 704,553 flights that were operated in August 2019 before the pandemic. 

However, this was an increase of 50.4% from the 394,143 flights operated in August 2020 during the pandemic.

Hotel Room Demand Exceeding 2019 In Some Cases

In December 2021, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, hotel room demand bounced back to 2019 levels

In July 2021, one group of hotels, The Springwood Group, actually exceeded their pre-pandemic demand.  75% of their hotels posted July 2021 revenue better than that of July 2019

Overseas Arrivals To The US Increased

In December 2021, overseas arrivals were 51% below December 2019 levels. The relaxation of border restrictions made a huge impact, as in October these numbers were 78% lower. 

US Business Travel Has A Way To Go

Business trips account for about 13.6% of total U.S. air travel, but up to 75% of airlines’ profits. Annual revenue for business travel in the U.S. (domestic and international travelers) usually amounts to approximately $334.2 billion. 


At the outset of the pandemic, 98% of member countries of the Global Business Travel Association canceled international business tours, while 92% canceled all or most of their business trips. 

The number of business trips taken in the U.S. fell sharply from 464 million in 2019 to 185 million in 2020. 

But in 2021 business travel started to pick up again, with approximately 229 million business travelers. 

At the outset of the pandemic, 98% of member countries of the Global Business Travel Association canceled international business tours, while 92% canceled all or most of their business trips. 

In Conclusion

According to projections from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the US travel and tourism industry should surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2022

The sector’s contribution to the US GDP is forecast to finish the year at nearly $2 trillion, an increase of 6.2 percent over $1.87 trillion in 2019. Employment in the travel and tourism industry may reach almost 16.8 million jobs. Nearly 200,000 more jobs than in pre-pandemic 2019.

People have started to travel again, which brings immense hope for this industry and the global economy as a whole. 

If you would like to receive insights like this directly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter below.