ForwardKeys, the leading travel analytics firm has revealed the hundred most appealing destinations this summer (1st July – 31st August), based on how extensively travel to them has been searched online. ForwardKeys Flight Searches data, which is the most comprehensive source available, covers many billions of searches a year, via an extensive selection of online travel agencies, airlines and metasearch companies including Google Flights, Kayak, Kiwi.com, Skyscanner, Wego, and more. It is much sought after by destinations seeking to quantify travel intent.
Top of the list is Bangkok, far ahead of the second most searched destination, Paris. As over 1.1 billion searches were analysed for the report, to make the list more digestible, ForwardKeys has produced the ranking indexed on the basis that Bangkok is 100. The top twenty, in order, with their index values are: Paris, 73, London, 72; Denpasar, 69; Barcelona, 68; New York, 61; Lisbon, 54; Istanbul, 52, Madrid, 52; Athens, 51; Palma Mallorca, 48; Singapore, 46; Tokyo, 45; Kuala Lumpur, 45; Amsterdam, 44; Copenhagen, 42; Los Angeles, 42; Rome, 39; Manilla, 34 and Frankfurt, 34. Positions 21 – 100 also include Antalya, Berlin, Cancun, Cairo, Delhi, Dubai, Dublin, Ho Chi Minh City, Malaga, Marrakech, Miami, Milan, Punta Cana, San Francisco, Seoul, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Warsaw, Valetta and Vienna. A full report can be downloaded from https://forwardkeys.com/the-
The search rankings are also compared to last year, giving a rise and fall in relative popularity. Bangkok is up three places, pushing Paris off the top spot. London holds its position, in 3rd place. In capturing 4th position, Bali’s capital, Denpasar, rose six places, pushing down Barcelona to 5th, Lisbon to 7th, Istanbul to 8th, Madrid to 9th and Palma Mallorca to 11th. A new entrant in the top ten was Athens, up one place from 11th, while New York rose two places from 8th in 2022 to 6th this year. Impressive risers that charged into the top twenty were Tokyo, up 53 places to 13th, Kuala Lumpur, up 24 places to 14th, Singapore, up 14 places to 12th and Manilla, up 8 places to 19th. Their rise is principally explained by the relatively late relaxation of COVID-19 travel restrictions, which triggered a surge in interest.
The top ten list of highest climbers is dominated by Asian and Australasian cities, which, last summer, were still subject to some of the strictest and most enduring pandemic travel regulations. The highest climber is Taipei, up 161 places to 56th. It is followed by Hong Kong, up 129 places to 39th, Seoul, up 56 places to 35th, Tokyo, up 53 places to 13th, Hanoi, up 41 places to 76th, Auckland, up 41 places to 103rd, Melbourne, up 31 places to 75th, Ho Chi Minh City, up 30 places to 52nd, Kuala Lumpur, up 24 places to 14th and Phuket, up 24 places to 57th.
Analysis of ForwardKeys’ air ticketing database reveals some interesting new trends. Throughout the pandemic and at the start of the recovery, leisure travel to beach destinations has been in the lead. However, that is now starting to change. Compared to this time last year (2022), summer flight bookings to beach destinations are 22% ahead; however, urban destinations are 42% ahead, nature destinations are 45% ahead and shopping destinations are 53% ahead.
Looking at the global travel recovery, benchmarked against pre-pandemic (2019) levels, worldwide summer bookings are just 13% behind. However, there is a huge difference geographically. The strongest major source market is the USA, where summer outbound flight bookings are now 11% ahead of 2019. It is followed by Canada, 4% ahead. The UK is just 3% behind and the EU 11% behind. Latin America is the next best revived continental source market, 14% behind. It is followed by India, 17% behind, South Korea, 29% behind, GCC countries, 36% behind and China 69% behind.
Other notable trends to emerge from a more in-depth analysis of flight bookings include the growth of London as a hub for multi-destination, long-haul trips to Europe, the attractiveness of music festivals and the greater speed of recovery in outbound travel from China compared to Japan.
Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys, said: “Congratulations to Bangkok in becoming this summer’s top of the travel pops. Its popularity is a clear sign that with the reopening of the Asian markets, we are about to see the first “normal” summer since the pandemic, with 19 mainstream Asian cities listed in the top 100. The Caribbean also deserves congratulations because it has managed to maintain its popularity in the face of greater competition from numerous other destinations which are now open again. While the outlook for summer travel currently looks relatively rosy, there are a few reasons to be cautious. Inflation is high, so while consumers may again be travelling, they may not be spending quite so liberally. Also, if there is a late surge in demand, the recovery could be thwarted if operators are not prepared; and stories of travel chaos deter last minute bookings.”