Trans-Tasman travel bubble triggers bookings surge

In a sign of pent-up demand for travel, holiday bookings for travel between Australia and New Zealand have spiked since the announcement of the recently-launched travel bubble between the two neighbours.

Sydney a popular choice among Kiwi travellers as Australia-New Zealand travel bubble opens

According to the latest analysis by ForwardKeys, just one day following the New Zealand prime minister’s announcement on April 6 of the quarantine-free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand, issued tickets reached 101 per cent of 2019 volumes.

Olivier Ponti, vice president insights, ForwardKeys, commented: “We are observing the reactivation of travel and the release of pent-up demand. The shape of the revival is very much in line with what we have been expecting. Leisure travel is leading the charge, as many people have been longing to take a holiday; and they have seized the opportunity immediately.”

Analysis of the major routes between the two countries revealed that the bulk of bookings (46 per cent) are between the three major cities on Australia’s east coast – Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne – and New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland. Bookings between those cities and New Zealand’s second city Christchurch represent 15 per cent.

Analysis of traveller profile showed leisure travel leading the way and business travel lagging, with 91 per cent of bookings for leisure travel and nine per cent for business.

A quick look at comparative market shares revealed that bookings to Queenstown, which promotes itself as “the adventure capital of the world”, have performed exceptionally well.

Overall, bookings made from the whole of Australia to New Zealand in the period April 6-14 were 37 per cent behind those made in the equivalent period in 2019, but bookings to Queenstown were 2.5 per cent ahead of pre-Covid levels.

Closer inspection of travel timing suggested strong pent-up demand for winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding, because 72 per cent of the bookings to Queenstown are for arrival between June and October 2021 – the popular ski season in New Zealand.

ForwardKeys also noted the post-pandemic trend of longer stays, with a growing number of travellers from Australia choosing to stay over 14 nights – an increase of 32 per cent when compared to 2019 figures. Even the average length of stay has increased from 7.1 nights to 9.7 nights.

“Perhaps this is a sign of ‘cabin fever’; people haven’t had the chance to travel and now that they can, they wish to get away for longer and even splurge on themselves,” said Ponti.

This may be the case as there has also been an eight per cent increase in bookings for business class cabins. Upon closer inspection of the passenger profile regarding the issued tickets between April 6-14, solo travellers and couples lead the pack.

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