Travel TrendsTravel search wanes in Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam amid Covid-19 resurge, while pent-up demand bolsters staycation bookings in Singapore.

The ups, downs and highlights of domestic travel in Asia Pacific

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Bali hotel searches have almost recovered to pre-Covid levels, but flight searches haven’t shown a recovery yet.
Bali hotel searches have almost recovered to pre-Covid levels, but flight searches haven’t shown a recovery yet. Photo Credit: R.M. Nunes/Getty Images

Changes in domestic travel in Asia Pacific are clearly aligned to the waves of the Covid-19 virus, based on latest data collected by Sojern of over 350 million traveller profiles and billions of travel intent signals.

Australia was found to have the most dramatic decline in travel intent, beginning early July. When domestic travel was open, there was a 600% increase in flight and hotel searches and bookings; travel intent is now at 300%. This decline could be attributed to the increase of Covid-19 cases within the country.

Flights from Victoria to New South Wales (NSW) are reportedly being treated as ‘international’ arrivals at Sydney Airport, with passengers being required to take 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine. While flights depart from domestic terminals in Melbourne and at other airports across Victoria, Sydney is the only NSW airport still accepting flights from Victoria but at the international terminal. Again, travellers will undergo strict identification and health screening checks.

The past weekend, Queensland announced that it was also closing its borders to travellers from NSW and the Australian Capital Territory, which houses Canberra, Australia’s capital city.

Likewise, New Zealand peaked in travel around early July and has since declined, both for flight and hotel searches and bookings. In Japan, an increase in travel intent was observed in late June (up 300%), but since then a decline (up 200%) could be due to the latest Covid-19 outbreak.

Similarly, Taiwan and Thailand saw domestic travel to be high, peaking in July. However, as soon as an increase in Covid-19 cases occurs in these areas, domestic travel goes down.

Following a fresh Covid-19 outbreak in Danang on 24 July, Vietnam’s first domestically transmitted case in 100 days, the virus has spread to domestic travel cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh and from mid July onwards a decline in both domestic flight and hotel searches and bookings in the country was observed.

Since Singapore Tourism Board revealed the first set of staycation-approved hotels in the country, there was an increasing number of hotel searches and bookings, particularly from late July. This is clearly indicative of the pent up demand for staycations allowing for Singapore residents and locals to book their local getaway.

In Indonesia, it is observed that hotel searches for domestic travellers within the country to Bali have almost recovered to pre-Covid levels. When compared to January, hotel searches are down only 20% and have increased by 400% since May. Domestic travel restrictions in Indonesia were gradually seen to have been lifted from May and Sojern's data indicates that both hotel and flight searches have started recovering since.

When looking at international travel to Bali, it is seen that hotel searches have almost recovered to pre-Covid levels, but flight searches haven’t shown a recovery yet. That being said, international travel restrictions to Bali will be lifted starting September and Sojern's data is reflective of the travel demand then. The top five international origin countries of travellers wishing to travel to Bali in September include the US, Australia, UK, Germany and Japan.

Following the reopening of Maldivian borders to international visitors on 15 July, data from Sojern, however, shows that both flight and hotel searches have had some gradual recoveries, but are still far from the levels we saw in January. That being said, since May there has been a 50% increase in flight and hotel searches.

The top six international origin countries of travellers wishing to travel to the Maldives in September include the US, India, UK, Germany, Canada and UAE. Maldives has announced that 94% of its resorts will reopen by the end of October 2020, following health and safety measures set out by the Ministry of Tourism.

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