COVID-19: Insights On Travel Impact, Asia Pacific – December

December 2, 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 on the 1 December, 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.

Travel Intent for Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia in Relation to Vaccine Announcements

On 9th November, the world saw a glimpse of positivity in travel and stock prices when Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they had a vaccine that offers 90% protection against COVID-19. Since then, it is believed that an international vaccine battle has begun, one that is expected to continue into the new year where vaccines compete with each other to help overcome the pandemic with doctors and scientists studying them to rate effectiveness. 

In Singapore, the Civil Aviation Authority and Changi Airport Group (CAG) have set up a taskforce to support the logistics of transportation and storage of the vaccine when it becomes available for distribution into the country. Large countries like Australia are also looking long and hard into the vaccine supply chains and logistics to be able to deploy it to remote and rural areas of the country that may be harder to get to. In Hong Kong, the conversations of where the vaccine will be sourced from continues, with China taking the forefront in discussions. 

Aside from vaccine announcements, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong are in different stages of the pandemic and where they stand with internal government rules and regulations. This month, we analyse travel intent for each of these countries following the vaccine announcements, individual government restrictions, and looking into 2021. 

Australia Year-to-Date Flight Searches

Looking at the chart above of flight searches for Australia, we notice a notable uptick domestically. When looking at the percentage change since October 2020 to date, we see close to an 80% increase from the domestic market. As of 1st December, a number of Australian states have opened their borders to residents from other states and our data is reflective of this new development. Unsurprisingly, as international borders to travel into Australia remain shut, flight searches from APAC and other markets remain relatively flat. 

Australia Year-to-Date Flight Searches Domestically

Within Australia, our data indicates that travellers are mostly looking to travel to Victoria, Tasmania, and Queensland – these destinations seeing the most notable changes and increase in travel intent. For domestic flights searches since October 2020 to date, we see close to a 300% increase in travel intent to Victoria, approx. 200% to Tasmania and 100% to Queensland.

Western Australia’s borders remain closed currently and this cautious approach is reflected in our flat travel intent data. However, more recently it has been announced that the borders are said to reopen next week and this will likely affect search volumes. 

Travel Searches for Australia – November Search Date (2019 and 2020)

Of the domestic travellers searching for trips within Australia in November 2020, 33% were looking for a November departure date and 45% looking to travel in December. We can see that the demand is the highest for December departures, highlighting people’s confidence and desire to travel as the pandemic is getting under control, and state borders are being reopened. This pattern of data also indicates that the lead time for flight searches in 2020 has reduced to a shorter time frame. 

For APAC flight searches to Australia, the lead time appears longer. There is a slight increase in travellers searching for later departure months in 2021 which is a change in trend from 2019. Internationally, fewer travellers seem to be looking ahead to travel to Australia at this stage.

Top 15 Origins to Australia For Q1/Q2 Travel

Destination

Origin Country

% of Searches

Australia Australia 97.72%
Australia United States 1.38%
Australia Singapore 0.14%
Australia New Zealand 0.12%
Australia United Kingdom 0.12%
Australia India 0.08%
Australia Japan 0.06%
Australia Canada 0.04%
Australia Hong Kong 0.04%
Australia Philippines 0.03%
Australia Indonesia 0.03%
Australia Switzerland 0.03%
Australia Malaysia 0.03%
Australia France 0.02%
Australia Germany 0.02%

By looking into which origins are leading the way in Australia flight searches we get a clearer understanding of which markets and regions are driving the general upward trend in travel intent in 2021. Domestic searches currently account for 97.72% of total search events, with intent from top international markets being shown by the USA (1.38%), Singapore (0.14%), New Zealand (0.12%), and the United Kingdom (0.12%). 

Hong Kong Year-to-Date Change – Flight Search

When the news of the travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was announced in October, interest in hotel searches in Hong Kong from Singapore increased dramatically. During the first week of November, the travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was set to begin later in the month on 22 November. Our data above is reflective of this, showing a 100% peak in flight searches during the week of 8th November. Since then, the travel bubble has been further delayed and to be reviewed for 2021 towards the end of December as Hong Kong sees their worst wave of the pandemic. 

Top 15 Origins to Hong Kong For Q1/Q2 Travel

Destination

Origin Country

% of Searches

Hong Kong Hong Kong 67.20%
Hong Kong United States 14.54%
Hong Kong Singapore 3.73%
Hong Kong United Kingdom 3.10%
Hong Kong Canada 2.77%
Hong Kong Australia 1.55%
Hong Kong Germany 1.26%
Hong Kong Japan 0.67%
Hong Kong France 0.43%
Hong Kong China 0.40%
Hong Kong India 0.35%
Hong Kong Malaysia 0.35%
Hong Kong Thailand 0.34%
Hong Kong South Korea 0.31%
Hong Kong Philippines 0.30%

By looking into which origins are leading the way in Hong Kong flight searches we get a clearer understanding of which markets and regions are driving the general upward trend in travel intent to Hong Kong in 2021. Domestic searches currently account for 67.20% of total search events, with intent from top international markets being shown by the USA (14.54%), Singapore (3.73%), New Zealand (3.10%) and Canada (2.77%). 

Singapore being the leading Asia Pacific country with travel intent indicates that travellers are still hopeful for the travel bubble to come into fruition in early 2021. Also, the government recently announced a further HK$600 million (US$77.4 million) relief fund to tide the tourism industry which was received with mixed reactions.

Singapore Year-to-Date Change – Hotel Search

Although international travel intent to Singapore has been impacted by COVID-19, our data since January 2020 shows that domestic hotel searches have not dropped and continue to skyrocket (+40% since October) indicating that the staycation trend continues. Every Singapore Citizen aged 18 and above has received digital SingapoRediscovers Vouchers to be used on attractions, hotels and tours from 1 Dec 2020 to 30 Jun 2021 and our data is reflective of this initiative.

American biopharmaceutical firm Arcturus Therapeutics, is working with scientists from Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, to develop a vaccine that is showing positive results and could be available as early as 2021. This could be hopeful internally for the country and also for the future of international travel into Singapore.

Top 15 Origins to Singapore For Q1/Q2 Travel

Destination

Origin Country

% of Searches

Singapore Singapore 75.53%
Singapore United States 9.85%
Singapore United Kingdom 2.36%
Singapore Australia 2.34%
Singapore Japan 1.19%
Singapore Germany 1.01%
Singapore India 0.79%
Singapore Hong Kong 0.63%
Singapore Canada 0.63%
Singapore Malaysia 0.61%
Singapore Indonesia 0.50%
Singapore Philippines 0.47%
Singapore France 0.43%
Singapore Netherlands 0.32%
Singapore South Korea 0.30%

Singapore Tourism Board recently unveiled SingapoReimagine, the platform for initiatives that are meant to “shape the future of [the tourism] sector”. This announcement comes in anticipation of Singapore opening its borders for international travel. Referring to the chart above, domestic searches in Singapore currently account for 75.53% of total search events, with intent from top international markets being shown by the USA (9.85%), the United Kingdom (2.36%), Australia (2.34%) and Japan (1.19%). 

Conclusion

The findings this month include – an analysis of domestic travel intent within Australia indicating a peak in flight searches with domestic state borders opening ahead of the festive season. With new cases of COVID-19 in Hong Kong, travel intent internationally and from APAC has staggered whereas Singapore’s staycation trend continues to peak. Lastly, we have explored which travellers are looking to visit Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore globally but this trend is dynamic and based on updated country travel bans and quarantine requirements.

We will continue to share more insights as we monitor the situation.These insights will hopefully help travel marketers shape their strategies as the industry recovers. For the rest of the COVID-19 insights series click here. View more real-time insights on our custom COVID-19 dashboard

 


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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