African markets

Land travel rebounds in some Middle Eastern and African markets, while international travel lags

After a year in which flights were mostly grounded and travelers stayed home, returning to travel has become one of the most anticipated and uncertain activities of 2021. Mastercard’s Recovery Insights: Ready for Takeoff? is an overview of the main air and ground travel trends around the world. While the global travel recovery remains uneven, a rebound in land travel and an increase in domestic flight bookings are encouraging signs.

The report, developed by the Mastercard Economics Institute, draws on aggregated and anonymized sales activity across the Mastercard global network to better understand the next phase of travel, its drivers and challenges. This includes balancing leisure and business, local and long distance, savings and spending. The report also examines which spending categories are on the rise and what they signal for the travel resumption.

“There are indicators of recovery in some markets in the Middle East and Africa, for example, gas spending in Nigeria and Egypt is already above 2019 highs. Although we still have some way to go in the persistent uncertainty, consumers want to move and discover. Along with the safe and systematic opening of markets and continued momentum in vaccine deployment, countries will start to see more signs of a gradual recovery in travel,” said David Mann, Chief Economist, Asia and MEA, MasterCard.

Key trends include:

  • Global gasoline spending is up 13% from its previous peak in 2019. In Egypt and Nigeria, spending at petrol stations is already above their 2019 highs, while in the United Arab Emirates and Kenya they have equalized previous levels. Road trips – the big trend of 2020 around the world – are going nowhere.
  • As people prepare to reappear, pent-up savings are helping fuel sales in various categories. Beauty salon and luggage store sales are up, likely reflecting plans to move and increase in-person interactions. Spending at bike shops (+62%) also increased. Additionally, sales in toupee and wig stores have increased by 75% over the past year compared to the pre-pandemic period, with increases in this category also seen among consumers in South Africa.
  • Air travel remains sharply down globally, though trajectory is up. In markets like the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Nigeria and Kenya, international flight bookings are increasing, but are still at a fraction of what they were before the pandemic began. This also applies to South Africa, although domestic flights (56.7% share) are recovering at a faster rate, above its 40.9% share in 2019.
  • Global business travel lags global leisure travel by about four months. In the Middle East and Africa, however, there is a stronger correlation between the growth of leisure travel and that of business travel.
  • Border reopenings have fueled 10 interesting travel corridors. Limited border reopenings have proven difficult for travelers and the travel industry. But some open corridors show a partial recovery. For example, flights from the Middle East and Africa are gradually improving, with intra-regional travel to Egypt and the United Arab Emirates being the most notable.

“The past year has only reinforced the importance of travel – for our connection with our friends, family and the rest of the world, for our business communities and our fulfilment,” said Raj Seshadri, President of the data and services, Mastercard. “The economic implications of tourism are vast, and virtually no industry is spared when travelers stay home. With Recovery Insights, we’ve helped airlines redesign travel routes, retailers reorganize inventory, and cities understand shifts in neighborhood spending. It’s about enabling smarter decisions for better outcomes, today and tomorrow.

Mastercard launched Recovery Information to help businesses and governments better manage the economic risks presented by COVID-19. Through this initiative, Mastercard has provided insights, analytics and other data-driven services to businesses and governments to help them understand ever-changing consumer spending trends and how to address them.

For example, early last year, a major Asia-Pacific airline used Mastercard Test & Learn to understand what drove performance during the pandemic. Travel time longer than seven days was found to have increased by almost two-thirds, and tickets purchased months in advance increased by around half. Based on this information, the airline was able to instantly adjust its strategy in real time to optimize sales and better serve travelers.

Mastercard offers peace of mind to cardholders by guaranteeing ease, simplicity and value when traveling. For certain cardholders:

  • Mastercard Travel and Lifestyle Services helping cardholders get back on the road with trip planning, offers, booking and convenient 24/7 concierge assistance – even more important now with the ever-changing travel rules and regulations as well as health concerns.
  • With the lowest hotel rate and hotel stay guarantees, plus insurance coverage for trip cancellations, lost luggage, rideshare protection, rental cars, and more, cardholders cardholders can travel with confidence, knowing that they will always get the best value for money and exactly what they paid for. for.
  • In addition, offers unique experiences, offers such as Mastercard Travel Rewards and in-destination benefits.