BOGOTÁ—South America’s weekday hotel occupancy, a lead indicator of business travel, is moving closer to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest data from STR that will be presented at the SAHIC Hotel & Tourism Investment Forum.

Among key markets in the region, São Paulo has seen stronger occupancy recovery on weekends compared to weekdays, but shoulder days (Sunday and Thursday), which combine both business and leisure travel, have been the best performing days in the market.

Panama City, on the other hand, saw better weekday performance with Wednesdays showing the second-highest occupancy level in 2022 (at 56.3%), only slightly behind Thursdays (56.6%). Sunday was the only day of the week to show occupancy below 50% in 2022 (at 47.3%).

Similar to Panama City, Bogota’s highest day of week occupancy in 2022 was on Wednesdays (at 62.4%).

“Leisure demand is no longer the main driver of recovery across the region,” said Patricia Boo, STR’s senior director, Latin America. “We can see the return of business travel, not only through weekday performance, but by analyzing the shoulder days when, typically, ‘bleisure’ demand collapses. While the region’s hotel industry started the year with double-digit occupancy declines from 2019 during shoulder days, the last half of the year brought two months of growth (September and November) and closed the year just 1% below the pre-pandemic comparable.”

“In corporate cities where STR has a Forward STAR sample, we are seeing booking windows lengthening and occupancy on the books across 90-day periods coming in higher than what was seen the previous year,” said Boo. “While slower to return, we can expect both business transient and group demand to continue on this recovery trajectory as events and meetings take place throughout the year.”

Boo will present at SAHIC on Monday, 27 March, at 10:10 a.m. COT.