Intra-Asia travel sees strong post-lockdown resurgence: Expedia

Although Japan has not set a date for its border reopening, its cities of Tokyo, Osako, and Hokkaido are trending in searches for the year-end holidays, especially among Singapore travellers.

Aside from Japan, Expedia reported that in 1H2022, destinations like Bangkok, Bali and Singapore trended month-on-month.

Trends shaping travel for the Asia-Pacific region were shared during Expedia’s media dialogue on Aug 17

The online travel company observed a 470 per cent spike in inbound travel demand for South-east Asia between 1H2021 and 1H2022.

Expedia also noted that six out of the top 10 source markets for South-east Asian destinations were from Asia – Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, and Indonesia – underscoring strong intra-Asia travel intentions.

These data points, as well as current travel trends, were shared at Expedia’s Wednesday media dialogue on trends shaping travel for the Asia-Pacific region.

Expedia’s vice president of market management, Asia Pacific, Michael Dykes, said: “When Japan opens, it will really help (Asia-Pacific). We saw it from Australia when it first reopened. Domestic travel was tops, but when South-east Asia opened up, suddenly all the Australians were travelling throughout the region. When Japan reopens, it is going to help all of Asia, because there’s going to be another big wave of travel in and out.”

For example, according to Expedia data, Indonesia and Thailand took first and second spot in the top five destination ranking for Australians in 1H2022. When compared to 1H2019, demand for the two South-east Asian countries was 10 times short.

Dykes added that the “attractiveness of Japan has not dimmed”, with travellers from Singapore particularly enjoying the cuisine, varied destinations from Hokkaido’s ski destinations to Okinawa’s beach resorts, and ease of getting around.

James Marshall, vice president, global air account management, Expedia Group, said: “There is a lot of speculation that by the end of the year, Japan will be open – although there’s nothing official. Yet, carriers like Singapore Airlines (Scoot) continue to add capacity and flights.”

To give travellers more flexibility in the event of Covid-related issues, Dykes pointed out that the OTA has worked with suppliers and made 70 per cent of Expedia’s rates fully-refundable within conditions.

When asked what the travel forecast is for 2023, Marshall told TTG Asia he is optimistic that the sector will continue on its upwards recovery trajectory.

Aside from helping to accelerate technology in the travel space, Covid has also resulted in pent-up travel demand and catalysed purchase intent – something that Marshall believes will allow demand for travel and experiences to take precedence over material goods at least for the next six months.

However, Marshall cautioned that there will continue to be travel hiccups due to resource shortage, surging fuel prices, and a looming recession.

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