The outlook for Asia-Pacific tourism has been upgraded thanks to further easing of travel restrictions following improved viral conditions and vaccine coverage in all destinations, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata).
The latest version of visitor forecasts for 2022-24 in Asia-Pacific is projected to reach 36.2% of 2019 levels this year, up from the 32.6% forecast in April, said Haiyan Song, deputy dean at School of Hotel and Tourism Management at Hong Kong University of Technology.
By 2024, the number of tourists in the region will recover to 832 million in a best case scenario, 694 million in a basic case scenario and 510 million in the worst case scenario.
“Further recovery has been derailed by tight border controls in Northeast Asia, particularly China, which is likely to remain closed until 2023,” Song told Pata Visitor Forecast Updates – The Impact of Reopening to recovery standards “.
As Thailand boosted most travel requirements on May 1, tourism arrivals in 2022 should reach 27.8% of 2019 levels, up from 19.9% previously forecast.
The top priority for travelers is safety and ensuring a smooth journey, so destinations need to clarify tourism requirements to make people feel more comfortable despite travel rules, said Liz Ortiguera, Pata CEO.
Mayur Patel, regional sales director at OAG, an aviation data analytics company, said the Indian market has outpaced other Asia-Pacific countries with a faster recovery and that a new China is expected in the next five years.
India has seen the lowest percentage change at 12.5% in international capacity between week 20 of 2022 and week 20 of 2019, compared to China with 93.7%.
He said destination management companies are looking at India as the new source for the medium term.
This year, available air capacity in Asia is estimated to recover 55% of the 2019 level.
The full recovery of air travel depends to a large extent on the reopening policy in China, which could happen by mid-2023.
Japan may begin to relax travel rules, but traffic is expected to make little difference.
“Optimism will proceed very slowly with challenges from inflation, geopolitical issues and the economic downturn,” Patel said.
Meanwhile, the aviation landscape would change, especially for low-cost carriers in Southeast Asia, which tend to expand their network with single-run fleets to compete in long-distance markets with low-cost aircraft.
The war in Ukraine has slowed the recovery of tourism, causing food and energy prices to rise and putting more pressure on global inflation, said Caroline Bremner, head of travel research at Euromonitor International.
As global inflation has doubled since January, consumers have been challenged by higher spending as businesses that can not absorb all costs have to shift the burden to consumers.
Ms Bremner said Asia-Pacific consumers tended to look for all-inclusive tourism packages to control the budget, according to Euromonitor’s “Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyle Survey” in February.
In addition, consumers of different income groups have shown great interest in sustainable travel such as ecotourism, wellness and sports.