Have vaccine will travel | TTG Asia
As destinations around the world open up to vaccinated travelers, some industry players are seeing a rebound for the sector. However, the pace of recovery in Asia-Pacific is lagging behind in the West, hampered by ongoing restrictions and slow vaccine deployment in parts of Asia. By Marissa Carruthers.
The appetite for travel remains unchanged as destinations across Europe report a steady summer of recovery for vaccinated travel. However, tourism to Asia-Pacific remains limited due to strict border restrictions and lagging vaccination rates.
Before the peak summer months, countries in the west that were continuing their vaccination programs cautiously reopened their borders to foreigners. Despite strict rules, the travel rebound was successful as pent-up demand kicked in.
In July, Spain welcomed 4.4 million international tourists, an increase of 78.3% compared to 2020. In the same month, Switzerland reported an increase of 300% compared to the US market. Throughout the summer, France received 150,000 requests for Covid digital certificates, mainly from North America.
The new Spanish regulations for the revival of international tourism entered into force on June 7 and include a series of measures. These include rapid antigenic tests approved by the EU and certificates of vaccination and recovery for travelers from countries in the EU and the European Economic Area, as well as certificates of vaccination for tourists in from non-EU countries.
According to figures from the National Institute of Statistics, international visitors in July spent 5,231 million euros ($ 6,052 million). The average spending per tourist was 19.3 percent more than a year ago and the average stay was 8.3 days.
Monica Sanchez, Director of the Spanish Tourism Board for South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand, said: “This reflects the gradual recovery of international tourism and shows that Spain has succeeded in be seen as a safe destination. “
Spain’s vaccination program was key to its reopening, Sanchez noted. It has one of the best vaccination rates in Europe and the world. “The success of the vaccination program and the easing of restrictions allow a gradual reactivation of tourism, although still far from 2019 levels,” she said.
The reopening of Switzerland to international visitors is also driven by vaccination rates. Under a series of measures that are constantly revised, fully vaccinated visitors can enter the country without quarantine.
Its first rebound came from neighboring markets, notably Germany, the United Kingdom and France. From long-haul destinations, Americans started arriving in April 2021. In July, they generated more than 60,000 overnight stays.
Obstacles for Asians
While visitors from Europe and the Americas rebound, arrivals from Asia-Pacific remain weak. According to industry players, this is due to the tight restrictions that remain in place in the region.
Batiste Pilet, South East Asia Director, Switzerland Tourism, said: “We have not seen a noticeable rebound in South East Asian markets due to daunting quarantine requirements in both time and money upon their return. . “
He added that the gap was noticeable. In 2019, Southeast Asia had 600,000 overnight stays in Switzerland and ranked 10th among foreign source markets. China leads the way, accounting for 50% of overnight stays from Asia-Pacific. Southeast Asia accounted for 20 percent; and South Korea, Australia and Japan, 10 percent each.
Pilet said: “Border restrictions are the main obstacle to recovery. Apart from these restrictions, customers are eager to travel.
Sanchez said that although Asia-Pacific arrivals to Spain are “very nascent”, it remains a valuable regional market as they travel outside of peak European season. She added that they are motivated by art, culture and shopping. After the pandemic, Singapore is expected to rebound first due to direct flights and the Philippines due to historical connections.
The introduction of the EU’s Covid digital certificate has also been instrumental in reopening European borders for travel. The digital or paper certificate confirms that the holder has been vaccinated, received a negative test result, or has recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months. It allows safe travel within the EU.
This is a factor Sinan Thourn, chairman of B2B Cambodia and PATA Cambodia section, said is difficult to reach in Southeast Asia due to geopolitics. “The two continents (Europe and Asia) are totally different,” he said. “The EU has no borders and there is the Schengen area. All these countries have good bilateral cooperation. If we look at Asia, everyone is trying to be number one and only look at their country, not all of Asia. “
He added that the onerous restrictions that remain in place across the region, such as quarantine on arrival, are a major “inconvenience” for travelers. “This is the reason why tourism in Asia will take much longer to recover than in Europe,” he added.
Thourn noted that there were a lot of pent-up travel requests in Asia-Pacific, and once restrictions in the region are lifted, there will be a healthy mix of long and short-haul travel. He predicts that Europe and the United States will be popular long-haul destinations. However, outbound recovery to pre-pandemic levels will take time.
Yes to security, no to quarantines Alain
Brun, CEO of Cambodia Airports, said Vinci Airports’ European operations have signaled a rapid recovery since the restrictions were lifted. In August, air traffic across Europe reached 71% of pre-pandemic levels. In Costa Rica, the airport returned to 2019 growth levels.
“The introduction of the sanitary pass and sanitary protocols has been instrumental in this,” he said.
Nick Ray, product manager of Hanuman Travel, which has offices in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, said vaccinations are essential for the safe reopening of borders. However, this must be paired without quarantine.
“To have a chance, there has to be an entry without quarantine for vaccinated travelers. We have seen people wanting to travel, but destinations on both sides have to be fully open, ”he said.
Sivlin Chhay, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, agreed that regional travel abroad is not an option until quarantine restrictions are lifted for vaccinated travelers. She added that pent-up demand in Asia-Pacific extends beyond leisure travel.
“There are a lot of people who want to travel to the region for business and health reasons,” she noted. “It will pick up quickly, but quarantines and other restrictions discourage non-essential travel. “