APAC sees bright spots in domestic travel recovery

A new report by Mastercard has found that while global travel recovery remains uneven, one-fifth of countries have returned to at least 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels for domestic flight bookings.

The fourth report in Mastercard’s Recovery Insights: Ready for Takeoff? series, which examines key global travel trends in the air and on the ground, also found that when it comes to domestic flight bookings, Australia surpasses the global average with bookings at 116 per cent.

One in five countries approach pre-pandemic domestic fight levels: Mastercard study

The report draws on aggregated and anonymised sales activity across the global Mastercard network, along with third-party data sets and proprietary analysis by the Mastercard Economics Institute, to better understand the next phase for travel, its drivers and challenges.

“Although many markets in Asia-Pacific are yet to see international borders open, there are some early bright spots in domestic travel recovery,” said David Mann, chief economist, AP & MEA of the Mastercard Economics Institute. “As travel corridors continue to open and flourish across the US and Europe, Mastercard believes the pent-up demand in Asia-Pacific, exacerbated by extended lockdowns, will follow a similar trajectory in both business and leisure travel, as the region cautiously reopens its borders.”

Among key findings from the report are that business travel lags behind leisure travel by approximately four months globally. Business travel is showing recovery signs worldwide, with Australian domestic business travel bookings at nearly 80 per cent of pre-Covid levels, and US domestic business travel back up to just over half of its 2019 average level.

Australia, Malaysia, and the Philippines are all seeing business travel bookings outstripping leisure bookings, offering a glimmer of hope for a strong recovery once travel corridors open up.

Globally, fuel spending is up 13 per cent from its previous peak in 2019. Road trips – the big trend of 2020 – are still holding their course. The report shows a robust demand for domestic ground travel, with fuel spending up in Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Australia, where areas such as Margaret River and Dunsborough are seeing a swell in local visitors.

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