Central America & The Caribbean Lead Global Aviation Recovery


The perennial lure of leisure destinations is benefiting the recovery of the region.

In 2022, many governments have lifted their travel restrictions, reestablishing connectivity and improving consumer confidence, which has allowed for travel demand to boom. Globally, the region that has bounced back the best from the COVID-19 pandemic is Central America & the Caribbean, with destinations such as Cancun (CUN) and Punta Cana (PUJ) already growing compared to 2019 traffic levels.

Perennial lure of leisure destinations

Earlier this week, ForwardKeys released a study analyzing what to expect from travel in 2022’s summer season. In the Americas, Central America and the Caribbean are the recovery pacemakers, thanks to the perennial lure of the local beach destinations, the firm said.

The most resilient destination cities in terms of international tourist arrivals for 2022’s third quarter (compared to 2019) are three cities in the Caribbean. Montego Bay, Jamaica, expects to receive 23% more passengers this quarter than in 2019, followed by Punta Cana (the Dominican Republic) with a 19% growth and Cancun with a 14% growth.

According to data by Cirium, the airlines flying to these three destinations offer 11.5% more flights and 18.9% more seats compared to 2019.

Cancun leads the charge with the largest number of flights per week with 1,911, followed by Punta Cana (491), and Montego Bay (274). In these markets we can see several strong carriers such as Volaris, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta, Copa Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.

Punta Cana and Cancun have remained open throughout the pandemic, encouraging tourism through consistent messaging and firmly established health protocols, said ForwardKeys. This approach has helped them maintain their popularity despite now facing more competition.

The Americas as a whole

In the Americas, different sub-regions are recovering at different rates.

According to the study by ForwardKeys, leading the way are the countries in the Caribbean: Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean expect to receive 5% more international tourists this quarter than in 2019.

South America expects to receive 25% fewer international passengers this quarter and the United States and Canada expect a 31% decrease compared to pre-pandemic traffic levels.

Top-performing destinations include Costa Rica (+24%), the Dominican Republic (13%), and Jamaica (+17%).

How’s Europe doing?

In 2022, Europe has also become a hot spot for tourists (and weather). This has led to airport chaos throughout the continent, with Schiphol and Heathrow becoming the two examples of staff shortages and passenger havoc.

The lifting of travel restrictions in most countries has led to a largely positive outlook for Europe this summer.

The countries that have rebounded faster from the COVID-19 pandemic are those in Southern Europe, benefitting from strong demand for sun and beach destinations.

Four of the fastest-recovering nations are in Southern Europe. These are Greece (+5%), Turkey (+4%), Portugal (-9%), and Spain (-15%). France is the top performer in Western Europe, at -16% of its pre-pandemic international traffic levels.

ForwardKeys said,

    “As we look towards summer, it is Europe leading the table for both outbound and inbound international travel. This is thanks to a combination of an active intraregional travel market and the reactivation of transatlantic travel – primarily from US travelers, whose interest in Europe remains high despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and an increase in fares.” (https://simpleflying.com/central-america-the-caribbean-lead-global-aviation-recovery/)


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