Trip to Latin America Recovery, going digital

Tourism is a key driver of economic development in Latin America, with the World Travel and Tourism Council ranking it as the fourth most important tourist region in the world.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on this sector, with a recent study showing that online travel sales in Latin America fell from $22 billion before the pandemic to $9 billion after the outbreak began there. two years old.

But even when COVID-19 restrictions were at their peak, online travel agencies were the most popular option for researching and planning trips to countries like Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. The study found that Mexico had the highest online travel market share at 46%, while Brazil held 31% of the market.

Argentinian company Despegar, meanwhile, has become Latin America’s leading online travel agency, controlling up to 10% of the market. Researchers estimate that the region’s online travel market is on track to return to pre-pandemic sales levels this year, with its value expected to reach $83 billion over the next two years.

Certain sub-categories of the sector are already trending towards recovery, notably in hotels/resorts and rental sites. Airbnb’s third quarter 2021 financial results were the highest on record, up 36% from the same quarter in 2019. The company also exceeded its third quarter 2020 revenue of $1.3 billion. nearly 70% year over year. Additionally, revenue growth nearly quadrupled from 10% in Q2 2021 to 36% in Q3 2021, reflecting, in part, strong gains in Latin America.

Meanwhile, digital payment methods are shaping the future of Latin America’s travel industry. For example, Argentinian consumers have embraced paying for vacations with cryptocurrencies in the face of bank restrictions on credit payments for tickets, accommodation, and services abroad.

The Travala platform – which is associated with Booking.com – allows cryptocurrency payments for flights, stays and excursions. Another player is the CryptoAvisos platform, which allows travelers to book and pay for rental accommodations, including cabins and apartments, using cryptocurrency.

In response to the popularity of these services, payment processors Visa and Mastercard have unveiled prepaid cards funded with digital currencies that can be used to make payments around the world, providing another option for travelers to and from of Latin America.

As health restrictions ease, Latin American consumers continue to show enthusiasm for online travel planning. As travelers in the region get back on the road, digital commerce promises to play a key role in helping them get where they are going.

To learn more about the role digital payments are playing in Latin America’s travel industry, download the Global Merchants’ Guide To Latin America, a PYMNTS and EBANX collaboration.

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