Searches for Bali hotels return to near pre-Covid levels: Sojern

Tanah Lot - Temple in the Ocean. Bali, Indonesia.

The lifting of domestic travel restrictions in Indonesia from May has sparked a rise in hotel and flight searches, with hotel searches for domestic travel to Bali increasing by 400 per cent since then.

As well, when it comes to international travel to Bali, hotel searches have almost bounced back to pre-Covid levels, as the Indonesian island looks to welcome international tourists again in September.

The top five international origin countries of travellers wishing to travel to Bali in September include the US, Australia, the UK, Germany, and Japan; Tanah Lot Temple in Bali, Indonesia pictured

These findings are part of Sojern’s latest insights on Covid-19’s impact on the travel industry in Asia-Pacific, as part of a blog series designed to aid travel marketers in their recovery efforts from the global crisis. The insights are based on data of over 350 million traveller profiles and billions of travel intent signals collected on August 11, 2020. However, the data does not capture one hundred percent of the travel market.

Domestic travel within Asia-Pacific fluctuates

When looking at changes in domestic travel in Asia-Pacific since April 5, Sojern noticed changes in the trends. Flight and hotel search and booking trends correspond with each other when it comes to the following countries – Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore.

Australia was found to have the most dramatic decline in travel intent, beginning early July. Initially, when domestic travel was open, Sojern observed a 600 per cent increase in flight and hotel searches and bookings. Now, travel intent is at 300 per cent. This decline could be attributed to the increase of Covid-19 cases within the country.

It is said that flights from Victoria to New South Wales (NSW) are 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 per cent). Since then, Sojern noticed a decline (up 200 per cent), which could be due to the latest Covid-19 outbreak. Likewise, Taiwan and Thailand saw domestic travel to be high, peaking in July. However, as soon as an increase in Covid-19 cases occured in these areas, domestic travel went down.

On July 24, Danang, a tourism hotspot, saw Vietnam’s first domestically transmitted case in 100 days. Since then, the virus has spread to at least 10 places, including popular domestic travel cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. Sojern’s data is reflective of what is transpiring in the country – from mid-July onwards, there was a decline in both domestic flight and hotel searches and bookings.

Since Singapore Tourism Board (STB) revealed the first set of staycation-approved hotels across the Red Dot, Sojern saw 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 residents and locals to book their local getaway. The list pulled together by STB continues to grow as more hotels conduct their safety checks and get added to the list.

Domestic hotel and flight searches and bookings

State of travel for Bali – domestic and international

The Indonesian government announced that it will be shifting its focus to boost the domestic tourism market and pursue local tourists. What this means is that the central government has set aside 3.8 trillion rupiah (US$256.6 million) to develop quality destinations and launch new marketing initiatives such as #IndonesiaCARE and Bali Rebound, among other promotional programmes, some of which are being driven by social media campaigns.

As such, it is observed that hotel searches for domestic travellers within Indonesia to Bali have almost recovered to pre-Covid levels. When compared to January, hotel searches are down only 20 per cent and have increased by 400 per cent 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 our 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, the UK, Germany, and Japan.

Domestic hotel searches to Bali

International hotel searches to Bali

Dreaming of the Maldives

Following the reopening of Maldivian borders to international visitors on July 15, Maldives has announced that 94 per cent of its resorts will reopen by the end of October 2020, following health and safety measures set out by the Ministry of Tourism. Sojern’s data 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 per cent increase in flight and hotel searches. In early June, when the Maldivian government announced the lifting of travel restrictions to the country starting from July 15, Sojern continued to notice a recovery trend in booking confidence for both flights and hotels.

Well known for the ‘one-island-one-resort’ concept, the top six international origin countries of travellers wishing to travel to the Maldives in September include the US, India, the UK, Germany, Canada, and UAE. Interestingly, in the US, Californians specifically are dreaming of the Maldives as we see it to be one of the top searched international destinations for them in the last 60 days.

Given the current Covid-19 climate, new tourism regulations, and naturally ‘socially’ distanced islands, Maldives is said to be one of the safest destinations to holiday in. Privacy at its best!

International flight searches to the Maldives – May to date

International hotel searches to the Maldives – May to date

In conclusion, the findings this month include changes in domestic travel in Asia-Pacific aligned to the waves of the virus, Bali showing signs of recovery of domestic and international travel, and lastly, the Maldives proving to be a safe haven with the opening of its borders to international tourists.

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