Fitch Ratings says Asia Pacific tourism recovery will be slow. I disagree.
Vacations are restarting
It took my sister over 2 and a half hours to drive from Penang to Ipoh yesterday. It was Saturday, so naturally there are more traffic. Traffic was slow on some stretches of the North-South Expressway. There were many cars. Usually, it’s 1 hour and 30 minutes. It’s just 148km by the way.
It took my brother-in-law close to 2 and a half hours to drive from Penang to Ipoh today. It is Sunday (26th December 2021) Naturally there are fewer cars versus Saturday. As usual, it’s 1 hour and 30 minutes on a normal weekend. The reason it took longer despite it being a Sunday is because there were many cars on the road.
Simple conclusion? People are travelling again. They just want to take a break after such a long time being stuck at one state. This will not be limited to just Malaysia by the way. Just need to look at the Visa Travel Lane (VTL) for some clues to get what I mean. Singaporeans are also trying to leave their country for a holiday after Sentosa, Sentosa and Sentosa…
Now… we listen to a prediction from an international rating agency about tourism recovery in Asia Pacific.
Article in nst.com.my Fitch Ratings says that international tourism across Asia Pacific will only be recovering slowly in 2022. This is despite higher vaccination coverage and stepped-up reopening efforts for many countries. Fitch Ratings said the emergence of Omicron had thrown a spanner into into reopening plans for some countries.
It said, “Japan has prohibited foreign visitors since late November, while Thailand tightened quarantine-free entry applications for inbound travellers for a two-week period in mid- December, with the exemption of the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ scheme initiated in July 2021. Singapore has temporarily suspended flight ticket sales for the “vaccinated travel lane” scheme. Please do read the article in full here. Article in nst.com.my
Recovery will be fast and furious
By the way, this was what the most recent report says about Omicron, even if it does seem that it spreads faster than Delta variant. UK Health Security Agency says that people catching Omicron are 50-70% less likely to need hospital care compared with previous variants. Full report for reference here. This is significant because as soon as Omicron is under control, the recovery is likely to be even faster than the earlier variants. Of course, we also need to hope there are no further faster infection and stronger Covid-19 variants after Omicron.
As soon as international travel is allowed within Asia Pacific, the number of people travelling is not going to increase by 10%, 20% or even 30% yeah. It will be fast and furious and it will be sudden. Flights will suddenly be fully booked… Hotels will suddenly receive huge number of bookings. Tourist spots will suddenly be full.
If everyone travels like me when we can travel
I personally do not think it (the tourism recovery) will increase slowly. I told my wife that when we can travel again, I intend to travel to cover back what we have lost. In other words, even if just half of everyone thinks like me, the intensity and frequency of travel within 12 months will be equal to 18 months or more. By the way, I do not think I belong to the group who’s considered the top 25% frequent travellers.
Let’s hope I am right yeah. Happy travelling!
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