Recovery of the tourism sector across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region to pre-pandemic levels may take time even after withdrawal of travel restrictions, says GlobalData, a data and analytics company.
This comes at a time when several economies have started negotiating travel bubble agreements with their major source countries to support the struggling tourism sector.
In the first eight months of this year, international tourist arrivals in the APAC region dropped by more than 75%.
Hong Kong witnessed a loss of more than 90% international visitors in the same period, followed by Japan, South Korea, Macau, where losses amounted to more than 80%.
China, where Covid-19 was first reported, saw the highest reduction in inbound visitors of 87% in the first quarter of this year.
GlobalData economic research analyst Aditi Dutta Chowdhury said: “Sharp decline in tourist arrivals is reflected in the hotel occupancy data too. Occupancy rate in Thailand’s hotel sector fell sharply to 28% during first eight months of 2020 compared to the 72% in same period previous year. Singapore and Hong Kong also reported 23% and 50% decline, respectively.”
Thailand has already established travel corridors with its neighbouring countries to support tourism. Hong Kong and Singapore are currently working to form travel bubble without quarantine restriction for travellers with negative Covid-19 test result before departure.
South Korea and Taiwan are also cautiously reopening their borders for foreign tourists.
Major Asian countries are keen to set up travel bubble with Chinese cities, as China is a major tourism hub.
On the other hand, Japan is creating travel corridors with its key trading partners. It is set to host the rescheduled Olympics next year and is expected to reopen its border for international tourists in April 2021.
Chowdhury added: “At a time when the tourists’ confidence levels are at the lowest, robust safety and hygiene protocols along with the adoption of contactless technologies are the need of the hour for the recovery of the travel and tourism sector.
“In addition, countries in the region are being cautious in reopening their borders so that they do not have to withhold the easing of tourist restrictions in the face of second wave of infection being witnessed across Europe. As a result, recovery to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels may take time.”