- International tourist arrivals in the APAC region declined by more than 75% in the first eight months of 2020
- China, where the COVID-19 virus was first detected, noted the highest reduction in inbound visitors of 87% in the first quarter of 2020
- Since May, countries have initiated the establishment of green/fast lanes and travel corridors
THoD Newsdesk, UK: As per reports by GlobalData, even though major economies across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) have started negotiating travel bubble pacts with their key source countries to revive the tourism sector, recovery to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels may take time even after all restrictions are withdrawn. GlobalData is a UK-based data and analytics company that was established way back in 1999.
It has been reported that international tourist arrivals in the APAC region have declined by more than 75% in the first eight months of 2020. Hong Kong reported a loss of more than 90% international visitors in the same period, followed by Japan, South Korea, Macau with more than 80%, and Singapore and Thailand by 79% and 75%, respectively. China, where the COVID-19 virus was first detected, noted the highest reduction in inbound visitors of 87% in the first quarter of 2020.
Aditi Dutta Chowdhury, Economic Research Analyst at GlobalData, was quoted saying, “Sharp decline in tourist arrivals is reflected in the hotel occupancy data too. The occupancy rate in Thailand’s hotel sector fell sharply to 28% during first eight months of 2020 compared to the 72% in the same period the previous year. Singapore and Hong Kong also reported 23% and 50% decline, respectively.”
Since May, countries have initiated the establishment of green/fast lanes and travel corridors. Thailand is one such country that has already set up travel corridors with its neighbouring countries to welcome international visitors along with the approval of ‘special tourist visa’ for long-staying visitors.
Hong Kong and Singapore are working towards setting up travel bubble without quarantine restrictions, subject to the submission of a negative COVID-19 test before departure. Similarly, South Korea and Taiwan are cautiously reopening borders for foreign tourist arrivals.
Japan is likely to reopen its border for international tourists in April 2021 before the rescheduled Olympics, starting on the 23rd of July 2021 while creating travel corridors with its key trading partners to ease the arrival of business tourists in 2020. Further, Japan has predicted expenditure of US$34.6m to bolster information to travellers and promote tourism destinations.
Chowdhury also mentioned, “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.”
Malaysia delayed tax instalments of 2020 by six months for the tourism sector. Hong Kong launched several support packages of US$217m (as on 9 October 2020) to the tourism sector.