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InterContinental Hotel Group’s US operations surpassed pre-pandemic levels of business in the first half, as the ignoring of COVID-19 restrictions accelerated a rebound in leisure and business travel.

The owner of Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, which has more than two-thirds of its 6,000-strong global assets in the US, said on Tuesday that revenue per available room (Revpar), the industry’s chosen metric, was up 3.5 percent. US in three months to June 30, compared to the same period in 2019.

The group also posted operating profit in the region of $351mn in the six months to June 30, up 2.6 per cent over the comparable period in 2019.

Among IHG’s global operations, Revpar was down 10.5 percent from 2019 levels in the first half of the year. The group posted operating profit of $377mn globally, down 8 per cent on profit of $410 million booked in the first half of 2019.

IHG chief executive Keith Barr said: “As well as vacation, demand for business and group travel remained high during the return period.”

He said the group’s strategy had allowed it to “emerge from the pandemic as a stronger and more resilient company”.

IHG announced that it will return $500mn of capital to investors through a share buyback program, as well as issue an interim dividend at 43.9 cents per share, 10 percent higher than its 2019 payout.

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

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