Returning quarantine a major barrier to outbound travel recovery: agents

Two travel agents have painted starkly different pictures on the state of outbound travel in their market, with mandatory quarantines for returning travellers being the key differentiator.

They were speakers at Virtual PATA Travel Mart 2021’s Buyer Insights Exchange session on August 3.

Travel agents David Chai (top right) and Surakit Jamkajang (bottom) share observations on outbound travel demand

Since May 5 when the South Korean government lifted the mandatory two-week quarantine for fully vaccinated residents, travel agency TideSquare saw a pick up in FIT bookings, especially to the US where South Korean visitors are also not needed to serve quarantine upon entry. Availability of air capacity and reasonably priced airfares also helped to encourage travel recovery.

The agency’s head of international hotel contracting, partnerships and sourcing, David Chai, said his company receives around 10 to 20 overseas bookings a day, of which 70 per cent are to the US, and the remaining to Europe. From October onwards, the company will push packages for World Expo 2020 in Dubai, as it is one of the official travel partners of the event.

Chai said demand for honeymoon packages is also on the rise, as newly-weds catch up on their disrupted honeymoon. Guam and Hawaii are popular for such trips.

On the other hand, fellow speaker, Surakit Jamkajang, who is managing director of Bangkok-based One World Tour and Travel, said Thailand’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for returning travellers was stifling demand for outbound travel.

He was hopeful that these restrictions would be eased from mid-October, allowing Thais to return without barriers. When this happens, Japan, South Korea, China, Singapore and Bali will be top destinations for Thais.

Both Chai and Surakit are also of the opinion that more travellers will rely on travel agencies as opposed to OTAs for travel planning and booking in the immediate aftermath of post-pandemic lockdown.

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