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Intercontinental Hotel Group’s Americas operations for the first half exceeded pre-pandemic business levels as the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions accelerated the recovery in leisure and business travel.

The owner of Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, which owns more than two-thirds of its 6,000-strong global property in the Americas, said Tuesday revenue per available room (revpar), the industry-chosen metric, fell 3.5 percent America is up in the three months ended June 30 compared to the same period in 2019.

The group also reported operating income in the region of $351 million for the six months ended June 30, an increase of 2.6 percent over the comparable period in 2019.

Across IHG’s global business, revpar for the first half of the year fell 10.5 percent from 2019 levels. The group reported global operating income of $377 million, down 8 percent from the $410 million reported in H1 2019.

“In addition to leisure travel, demand for business and group travel continued to grow over the period,” said Keith Barr, chief executive of IHG.

He added that the group’s strategy has enabled it “to emerge from the pandemic as a stronger and more resilient company.”

IHG announced it will return $500 million of capital to investors through a share buyback program and will pay an interim dividend of 43.9 cents per share, 10 percent higher than the 2019 payment.

“While the economic outlook faces uncertainty as central banks and governments take action to control inflation, we remain confident in our business model,” Barr said.

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