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The APAC race to recovery begins: India, Fiji, and Australia

To date, the APAC region was the most adversely impacted in terms of travel and tourism, largely due to having one of the toughest travel restrictions in the world.

As news about the travel activation taking place across the Americas, the Caribbean and Africa is being shared, the team at ForwardKeys chose to look in the other direction – the Far East and the Pacific.

To date, the APAC region was the most adversely impacted in terms of travel and tourism, largely due to having one of the toughest travel restrictions in the world.

However, one by one, nations in Asia are not only announcing reopening but scraping challenging travel barriers such as quarantines and the number of PCR testings. What a welcome surprise it is for many earning their living from the tourism dollar.

Issued tickets to Asia on the rise
Tickets for travel to key APAC destinations are on the rise. And it is India leading the way forward. India has recovered 80% of 2019’s level in the week of 5th March 2022. Next is the Pacific Island of Fiji, recovering 61% of pre-pandemic levels followed by the Philippines: 48% of recovery; Singapore: 43% recovery; and in last place, Australia: 38% recovery.

“The success behind India’s reactivation is the fact that India had announced in advance it’s reopening plan for this year, generating awareness and interest. While Fiji is a leisure island destination and I think that is its main advantage during this recovery phrase as people may feel safter to travel to less crowded (than cities) places with a variety of outdoor activities,” says Nan Dai, Market Analyst at ForwardKeys.

Australia’s role in reviving APAC tourism
When observing the most recovering source markets to key destinations in the Asia-Pacific region, this is where the ForwardKeys analysts noted the importance of the Australian outbound travellers.

Take the examples of India and Fiji. Travel from Australia to India has been improving, with arrivals from this origin market at +16% vs 2019 during the same period.

The pickup in tickets from Australia really started to jump at the beginning of February. “India removed the requirement for quarantine and facilitated travel by adding more countries to its “Category A” country list (Australia included); allowing for entry with proof of vaccination,” adds Dai.

It’s also worth highlighting that travel from other key Western markets is on the rise to India: the USA, up by 10% and Ireland up by 4% on 2019 levels.

The Pacific paradise known for its friendly locals and pristine waters, Fiji, is also appreciating an uplift in future bookings from Australians, peaking and performing above 2019 levels in April, June, and September.

However, Nancy Dai stresses not to rely on the typical travellers of the past. “Our data shows that this Southern Hemisphere summer, it’s couples and groups of 6+ who are most likely to travel to Fiji, not families or solo travellers!”

Changes in traveller behaviour and the role of Big Data
To close this APAC-centric analysis, Market Expert Nancy Dai wanted to give more hope to destinations in the region by emphasising the importance of knowing real-time trends and having useful data at your disposal.

“Many APAC government bodies and destinations may feel like travel is unlikely to take place soon to their destination, thus continue their protective travel rules and/or closed borders. However, as other destinations and travel tactics have shown from Mexico, Greece to the UK, restarting travel safely and healthily is possible if led by data and clear travel rules that don’t get changed frequently,” says Dai.

“For example, in Singapore, the leisure market is showing more resilience than in 2019 and there have been growths in issued tickets from Thailand (12%) and Denmark (9%) to Singapore – these are new and exciting opportunities worth exploiting via new flight frequencies or marketing campaigns for the tourism boards,” she adds.

In the instance of Australia, while total inbound traveller numbers may be low for now, the ForwardKeys data reveals that there has been a 14 p.p growth in premium cabin class arrivals shared in 2022 versus 2019. 

Data is not a nice to have tool anymore, rather it is the must-have dynamite to lead destinations out of the pandemic fog. And we can sense the smell of promise for APAC as more destinations bite the bullet and welcome travellers with fewer travel restrictions in play.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.