(Bloomberg) -- The UK is now the hottest destination among European travelers seeking an escape, after years of restricted movement. 

Britain has leapfrogged Spain as the top haunt for European travelers as of March 2022, according to a Mastercard Economics Institute report on this year’s travel trends. The UK is among countries spearheading a global rebound for travel, which has made long-haul leisure travel gain almost 70 percentage points toward pre-pandemic levels in the space of four months.

The UK’s resurgence as a travel hot spot was partly driven by the government’s decision to scrap all remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions in March, marking an end to nearly two years of measures. These included expensive Covid tests and quarantine.

As soon as restrictions were loosened for inbound travelers to the UK, flight bookings rallied from 59% below 2019 levels, to 40% above the pre-Covid period in about six weeks, the report shows. Travelers from the Middle-East and Africa are also flocking to the U.K. more than any other country.

“If flight bookings continue at their current pace, an estimated 1.5 billion more passengers globally will fly in 2022 compared to last year,” the report said. Europe will see the biggest increase, with 550 million more flights predicted to be booked this year compared to 2021.

To be sure, and while traveling stages a roaring comeback, headwinds still loom for the industry. The rising cost of goods is set to strain people’s purchasing power, especially for discretionary purchases like travel.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.