Skift Take

While not fully recovered, travel is taking on recognizable and predictable patterns in most regions. Asia Pacific is the exception, where there are still major fluctuations in travel performance with every new announcement of loosening and tightening of pandemic-related restrictions.

The recovery of the travel industry is not complete — our Skift Travel Health Index stands at 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels as of August — but it is taking on largely predictable patterns, with fluctuations in performance becoming milder as demand continues to strengthen. Other developments, like the war in Ukraine, is having a larger impact on fluctuations in performance than Covid-19 today.

Asia is the only exception to that rule. The region has been much later in loosening restrictions, and is behind the rest of the world in seeing demand and supply stabilizing. We see this clearly in our latest August update of the Skift Travel Health Index.

Hong Kong registered strong month-over-month growth in the latest update, as we saw bookings for Hong Kong hotels increase drastically. At the other end of the table, however, Thailand saw a weakening of hotel demand, pushing its performance down.

The government of Singapore has announced that same-day visitors will no longer be required to be vaccinated when entering the country. The need to quarantine for seven days is also scrapped. Instead, visitors just need to show a negative test result. These changes are likely to especially boost Malaysian arrivals at the city state’s only land border, and Singapore already saw a strengthening of its performance. 

Meanwhile, Japan also announced that beginning September 7, arriving or returning travelers no longer need a negative test when vaccinated and boosted. Entry visa requirements remain very strict for foreign travelers, but data provided by Skyscanner shows that the effect on Japanese travelers looking for outbound flights was immediate. 

China, after strong optimism last month that lockdown policies might be loosened, was hit by reality when new lockdown restrictions were put in place for many. Currently, close to 300 million Chinese residents are under some form of lockdown, impacting their travel behavior. Figures on the long weekend Mid-Autumn Festival in early September already show that tourism revenues stalled at 61% of 2019 levels. This is also 28 percent lower than last year. The upcoming National Day in early October will likely also be affected, as people are encouraged to stay close to home.  

CountryJuly 2022 scoreAugust 2022 scoreMoM Growth (abs)MoM Growth (%)YoY Growth (%)
Hong Kong, China45.761.215.533.9%89%
South Africa78.785.56.88.6%66%
United Arab Emirates96.1103.67.57.8%53%
United Kingdom95.

More analysis can be found in our August 2022 Highlights report and on our Skift Travel Health Index data dashboard.


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Tags: china, coronavirus recovery, covid-19, japan, skift travel health index, skyscanner

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