COVID-19: Insights on Travel Impact, APAC #69

September 17, 2020

With our access to real-time traveller audiences and unmatched visibility into global travel demand, we’re in a unique position to share the current travel trends at the forefront of marketers’ minds. In this blog series, we’ll take a look at the data in order to aid travel marketers in their assessment of this worldwide event. They can use these trends to inform their marketing strategies during this period, as the industry stabilises. 

These insights are based on data collected for the week ending 12th September, 2020. We are reviewing our data on a regular basis in order to provide an accurate view of trends and patterns in consumer behaviour. Sojern’s insights are based on over 350 million traveller profiles and billions of travel intent signals, however it does not capture one hundred percent of the travel market.

Indonesia’s Strong Upticks in Domestic Travel Intent

Late last month, it was announced that the popular Indonesian island of Bali would remain closed to international tourists for the rest of the year. It was initially scheduled to re-open from 11 September. When looking at international and domestic hotel searches across Indonesia, we see that both have declined as compared to last year. 

That being said, towards the end of year when the holiday season begins (60 – 90 days), we notice an increase in domestic travel within Indonesia. There is a 79% increase in intent to travel to Bandung, the capital of West Java, and a 44% increase to travel to Yogyakarta (colloquially called “Jogja”), which is known for its traditional arts and cultural heritage. 

 

Indonesia –  Year over Year % Change in Hotel Searches 

 

 

Indonesia recently reported a surge in COVID-19 infections and took the country’s total tally of deaths to be 8,965 – the highest number of reported fatalities in Southeast Asia. As such, Jakarta, the capital, has implemented a partial lockdown that will last for two weeks, to help lower the number of infected cases, and curb the virus. The CDC also strongly advises against non-essential travel to Indonesia. 

Not long ago, the Indonesian government announced that it will be focusing on boosting the domestic tourism and travel market and launched several marketing initiatives. This essentially allows travel marketers to target local audiences with safe travel options. Additionally, it is easier to control COVID-19 cases without international tourists and borders being opened.

As such, domestic searches have seen a significant recovery. Back in May of this year, hotel searches were down 70% since January of this year. It has steadily improved since then, and now hotel searches are only down 35% since the beginning of 2020.

Essentially, we are seeing a massive shift to domestic travel, particularly to those destinations that can be reached by road and train from the capital Jakarta, and other cities in Java including Surabaya, Semarang, Solo and Malang. 

 

Indonesia Hotel Searches – Domestic, Asia Pacific and International

The chart below shows that 10% of searches to Bali pre-COVID were domestic, whereas during COVID that jumped up to 43%. This increase in domestic hotel searches as compared to last year is also found to be the case for Bandung and Jogja. Again, an indicator that domestic travel intent is in demand.  

 

Indonesia Origin Hotel Searches – International vs Domestic Destinations

Traveller Intent to Australia from Indonesia 

When looking at flights from Indonesia to Australia, typically a popular route, we see some changes. Indonesia is said to be the home of approx. 20,000 Australians and the destinations of Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney are seeing a slight search uptick. There seems to be a huge interest to travel (depart) on 10th Dec and 21st January, possibly aligned with the Christmas and New Year holiday season. Our data also found that searchers are mainly solo travellers and 70% of travellers are looking to have a trip duration of more than 4 days. 

 

Indonesia to Australia – Departure Flight Searches

Visit Maldives – Safety First 

Taking into effect from the 10th of September onwards, the Ministry of Tourism in Maldives announced that it is mandatory for all tourists and short term visitors to present a negative COVID-19 test on arrival. The test should be taken 72 hours prior to departure for the Maldives and certificates have to be submitted via the immigration portal and presented to the officials in charge at the international airport upon arrival. All non-tourist passengers arriving in the Maldives by air (such as residents and returning students) are required to self-isolate for 14 days. 

Last month in our analysis, we saw a 50% increase in flight and hotel searches from May onwards. From our most recent data, irrespective of the latest travel measures that have been put into place, there has been no major impact to the travel intent to the Maldives. Perhaps travellers feel safe knowing that safety measures are being put in place and are not deterred to travel to the Maldives. The Maldives government is expecting more than 100,000 tourist arrivals before the end of 2020. 

 

% Change in Hotel Searches since May  (Red = APAC and Green = International)

 

In conclusion, the findings this month include changes in domestic travel in Indonesia with a focus on those destinations that you can reach by road and train. Internationally, trips to Australia from Indonesia seems to be on the agenda of travellers and lastly, Maldives is still proving to be considered as a safe haven to visit, irrespective of stricter travel measures. 

We will continue to share more insights as we monitor the situation. These forward looking insights will hopefully help travel marketers shape their strategies as the industry recovers from this outbreak. 

For the rest of the COVID-19 insights series click here.

 


About teesta.raha

Teesta is Sojern's Senior PR & Content Manager, EMEA and APAC and is based in Singapore. When not working, you will find her traveling, doing yoga, reading and occasionally, golfing.

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