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COVID-19: Insights On Travel Impact, Asia Pacific – March

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Domestic Demand for Travel across Asia Pacific

The domestic demand for travel in all markets across Asia Pacific (APAC) is stable or improving. Also, when comparing Asia Pacific with Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America and North America,  domestic demand in hotel searches is soaring.

Deep diving into a few markets, our data shows the following – Singapore is seeing a surge in staycation demand as families are likely planning for the upcoming March school holidays from 13 to 21 March 2021 (more details in the second section of this article).

In Australia, while international travel is still banned until June, domestic travel is being encouraged with regulations varying at a state level. More recently, Qantas announced that it is launching a series of “Mystery Flights” to encourage domestic travel. The Hong Kong government recently lifted some social distancing measures as new infections came down in recent weeks to low numbers and as such, popular theme parks have now reopened.

Last month, the Malaysia government announced that more businesses in the retail sector were allowed to reopen, including dine-in restaurants, to help their economy. This has translated into a gradual increase in domestic demand. Elsewhere, the Thai government is preparing a plan to ease restrictions for inbound travellers vaccinated against COVID-19 – an approach that will likely be adopted by more countries.

In other countries, Japan lifted its state of emergency in six prefectures outside the Tokyo region – in Aichi, Gifu, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka a week earlier than planned. A complete lift is expected to occur on 7th March which will likely boost domestic demand for travel further.

Chart 1 – Domestic Hotel Search – Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand

Chart 2 – Domestic Hotel Search – Global Comparisons Between APAC, EMEA, LATAM and NA

Staycations Trend for the March School Holidays in Singapore

Looking at our data, pre-Covid regional markets such as Thailand, Japan and Malaysia used to be top destinations during this period of time. For this year, domestic stays dominate where over 90% of travellers are looking for short staycations, with a preference to travel in the first half of the school holidays. Typically, the duration of holidays were for 4 or more days but that has dropped, primarily due to the fact that regional travel is still restricted.

Chart 3 – 2021 Staycation Trend in Singapore vs. 2019 

Chart 4 – 2021 Length of Stay vs. 2019

Conclusion

An increase in domestic travel demand is being observed across APAC, particularly in hotel searches in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. We also found that staycations continue to lead the way during the upcoming March school holiday period from 13 to 21 March 2021 in Singapore.

These forward looking insights help travel marketers across the region shape their strategies as the industry recovers. For the rest of the COVID-19 insights series click here. View more real-time insights on our custom COVID-19 dashboard.