Arrivals to Latin America were down by 63% in May compared to last year, according to Forward Keys research carried out on behalf of the Latin American Travel Association (Lata).

Long-haul arrivals to the region halved across the board, with Brazil seeing a 52% reduction, Mexico 49%, Colombia and Argentina both 47% and the Dominican Republic 46% down year on year.

The spread of the virus has intensified in the region, with Brazil now recording the second most cases of Covid-19 in the world, after the US.

However, panellists on a Lata consumer trends webinar said the UK is now producing more new bookings than cancellations for future travel to Latin America for the first time since the pandemic hit the region.

Bookings focus on 2021, with Easter proving the most popular time to travel and Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Cuba the top destinations of interest.

ForwardKeys compared the breakdown of flight searches in May from the UK to Latin America in 2019 and 2020 and found a 10% rise in flight searches for December 2020 versus December 2019, a 5% increase in flight searches for November 2020 versus November 2019, and a similar increase for October.

Lata, which also obtained consumer research of readers of Wanderlust, said it would analyse consumer attitudes and how they have changed towards Latin American travel in light of the pandemic, and identify the traveller profile who is likely to visit the region post-crisis.

It is creating a resource centre giving members access to data and is creating safety guidelines for destinations to open up to tourism safely.

Lata chief executive Danny Callaghan said: “Our members have told us how important it is to get updated data on UK booking trends as well as consumer sentiment towards travel. The data from ForwardKeys as well as the consumer research provided by Wanderlust Travel Media gives us and our members some valuable direction on how to direct our tourism strategies moving forward.

“We will continue to work as a collective with our ongoing panel discussion and resource centre to hopefully restore Latin America to the heights of its tourism. Despite the challenging scenario that we are currently faced with, it is encouraging to see there is still a strong appetite for travel to Latin America.”