Coronavirus travel setback spreads beyond China; flight bookings from APAC stall by 10.5%: ForwardKeys

The travel setback caused by the coronavirus outbreak has now spread beyond China, with other parts of the Asia-Pacific region experiencing a 10.5% slowdown in outbound travel bookings for March and April, excluding trips to and from China and Hong Kong, according to a study by ForwardKeys.

As of February 9, the setback looks likely to be most marked in North-east Asia, where outbound bookings for March and April are 17.1% behind where they were at the equivalent moment last year. Bookings from South Asia are 11% behind; from South East Asia are 8.1% behind, and from Oceania, 3% behind.

Coronavirus travel slump spreads from China across Asia, with APAC travel bookings nosediving for March and April: ForwardKeys

By comparison, the all-important Chinese outbound market is much more severely affected. Currently, bookings for March and April are set to be just 55.9% of what they were at the equivalent point in 2019.

Forward bookings to Asia-Pacific are 58.3% behind; bookings to Europe are 36.7% behind, to Africa & the Middle East are 56.1% behind, and to the Americas are 63.2% behind.

Looking backwards over the three-week period following the imposition of government travel restrictions in response to the coronavirus outbreak, outbound travel from China has fallen by 57.5%.

Travel to all parts of the world has been severely down, with the Americas worst affected in relative terms and Asia-Pacific in absolute terms. Travel to Asia-Pacific, which receives 75% of the Chinese outbound market, was down by 58.3%; travel to Europe was down by 41.7%; travel to Africa & the Middle East was down by 51.6%, and travel to the Americas was down by 64.1%.

Olivier Ponti, vice president insights, ForwardKeys, said: “The world’s largest and highest spending outbound travel market, China, is in severe difficulty; cancellations are growing by the day and the trend is now spreading to surrounding countries.

“On the brighter side, however, we are not seeing a slowdown in travel outside the Asia-Pacific region; so this is a moment to fill the void by studying alternative origin markets and focusing promotional efforts on them. We will be monitoring the situation carefully because in a disease outbreak like this, travel trends can change quickly; and different markets are likely to respond differently.”

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