A brief overview of the Asia-Pacific region’s return to travel
After years of COVID-19 travel restrictions, Japan has reopened their borders and reinstated visa-free travel to many countries. The Asia-Pacific COVID-19 restrictions were some of the toughest in the world and although China persists with strict quarantine policies, much of the region has now opened back up.
On track for a quick recovery?
In August, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) published a report ‘Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2022: Global Trends.’ This report forecast that the Asia-Pacific region’s travel industry would be the fastest to fully recover from the pandemic.
The report highlighted that when looking at Travel & Tourism’s contribution to the region’s GDP, Asia-Pacific is forecast to be the first to revert to 2019 levels, achieving this by 2023. All other regions are estimated to recover completely later in 2024. The Asia-Pacific region’s swift predicted recovery is attributed to the forecast resurgence in the arrivals of international visitors in Malaysia, Japan, and Australia. However, the 2023 recovery trajectory “could be jeopardised if large source markets such as China and Japan continue to impose restrictions to international travel.” The reopening of Japan’s borders alongside Malaysia and Australia suggests the Asia-Pacific region could be on the encouraging recovering trajectory as put forward by the WTTC.
The changed landscape of Asia-Pacific travel
- In 2021, North America overtook Asia-Pacific as the largest region of world passenger traffic. However, in 2022 the Asia-Pacific region will see approximately 430 million more fights than in 2021 as the world continued to open up.
- The nature of business travel has been greatly transformed in the region. Long-haul business travel is up over 11 per-cent since 2019 and domestic travel for business is up 40 per-cent since 2019. However, medium-haul business travel is down 11 per-cent, and short-haul business travel is down 45 per-cent.
- Leisure travel is on the rise. Domestic leisure flights are up 196 per-cent. Long-haul international leisure flights are up 19 per-cent, and medium-haul international leisure flights are up 17 per-cent.
- Intra-Asia travel is up. In August, Expedia’s research showed that 6 of the 10 source markets for South-East Asian destinations were from Asia. Additionally, Japan’s cities of Tokyo, Osako, and Hokkaido were already trending in searched for the year-end holidays even before Japan had set a date for their borders reopening. The research points towards strong intra-Asia travel.
The global pandemic was undeniably transformative. As travel ramps back up, it is interesting to see the ways travel patterns have evolved and the ways this will impact loyalty, retail, distribution, and much more.
Aviation Festival Asia will be taking place on 28 February – 1 March 2023 and will explore the difficulties and opportunities of the aviation landscape in the Asia-Pacific region.
Article by Jess Brownlow