Vaccines improve 2021 tourism outlook

SINGAPORE, 2 April 2021: Confidence in the vaccine rollouts, discussions around Covid-19 passports and alternative state quarantine announcements have triggered an increase in international travel searches, according to digital travel platform Agoda.com.

Agoda’s search data highlights green shoots of recovery and a growing optimism by travellers across Asia that international travel will start to return. Australia, South Korea, Japan and Indonesia witnessed residents doing more searches for international destinations. The requests for information related to international destinations appeared in their top 30 searches during March 2021 compared to December 2020.

Travellers from these markets are joining China, Taiwan and Singapore in their optimism for the resumption of outbound international travel. Only Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand continued to see zero interest in international destinations according to their 30 top searches in both December 2020 and March 2021.

However, interestingly, Thailand and the Philippines are generating searches indicating the two destinations have a following of international travellers who are just waiting for the two countries to reopen.

Alongside these growing searches, Agoda’s data shows booking patterns start to normalise and return to pre-Covid trends, as behaviour indicators such as lead times and prices, which both reduced heavily in the spring and summer of 2020, dip less sharply.

John Brown.

“There are definitely reasons for the travel industry in Asia to start to feel more optimistic, and vaccines will be critical to full recovery, but initiatives like government subsidy programmes, such as Together in Thailand or GoTo Japan have been successful in harnessing the demand for travel and supporting domestic accommodation providers,” explains Agoda CEO John Brown.

“Agoda’s search data shows that travellers are looking to resume international travel, buoyed by the implementation of the vaccine rollout.”

The vaccine rollout in Asia is commencing, but the pace across the region will vary, with some markets such as Singapore being fully vaccinated this year and others like Japan, Thailand and Vietnam looking more likely in 2022, so these heavily tourism-dependent economies need to consider how to accelerate the return to normality.

Governments will need to innovate how they approach the reopening of their borders, balancing the very real need for the safety of their own citizens and visitors alike with the economic reality.

“For the foreseeable future, quarantine remains a stumbling block to international travel, so the provision of alternative state quarantine, as launched in Thailand and Hong Kong, might prove to be a sensible solution in line with a vaccine programme”, he concluded.

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