InterContinental Hotels has today booked an annual loss of $153m, as it was hit by repeated Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns. 

But IHG said a faster recovery in its Holiday Inn Express brand had helped it outperform in key markets.  

The company had previously scrapped its final dividend.

It said 2020 was the most challenging year in its history as revenue per available room slumped 52.5%, with global travel and entertainment spending remaining under pressure. 

Pinning its hopes on the global roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines and a wider economic rebound, IHG said the industry was unlikely to see a recovery until later in the year but hinted that global travel was starting to recover. 

"People want to travel again - it is the thing that people have missed most and so there is enormous pent up demand to travel," IHG's fhief financial officer Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson said.

He added that "travel will come back very rapidly." 

Demand remained stronger in IHG's Holiday Inn Express business, which represents about 70% of its rooms in the US market and has historically been impacted less and recovered faster than other segments in economic downturns, the company said. 

IHG reported a group operating loss of $153m for the year ended December 31, compared with a profit of $630m last year.

"IHG is at the start of a prolonged period of commercial recovery," Peel Hunt analysts said in a note.