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Bali still a firm favourite: Mastercard shares latest travel trends

Bookings to Bali are up almost 400% in the last two months, and flights across the Tasman have increased by almost 200% since January; Mastercard’s latest ‘Travel 2022: Trends and Transitions’ report revealed.

Spanning 37 markets across the globe and 9 markets in the Asia Pacific, the Travel 2022: Trends and Transitions report delivers critical insights about the global state of travel in a less restricted, post-vaccine chapter of the COVID-19 pandemic era.

The report compares the current state of global travel to two key inflection points: the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, trends from the period when border restrictions began to ease and international travel resumed across most geographies. 

Let’s take a look at the key findings:

Reopening of borders puts Asia back on the tourist map

Thailand Bangkok
Wat Arun, Chao Phraya River, Bangkok, Thailand

According to the Mastercard Economics Institute analysis, if flight booking trends continue at the current pace, an estimated 430 million more passengers will fly in Asia Pacific compared to last year.

The travel outlook for the region is optimistic, even with markets across North Asia and mainland China yet to relax border measures, an event that will likely be felt across the entire region and the world. 

Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea and Malaysia have all lifted restrictions so far.

Japan is set to begin its phased reopening later this month.

Pent-up demand is expected to fuel the travel recovery

Bangkok Airport

Following two years of little to no travel for Asia Pacific in 2022, the loosening of travel restrictions and reopening of borders has sparked a surge in demand for both inbound and outbound travel.

A trend observed in markets across the region is consumers’ spending of excess savings on travel.

In 2022, borders opened in Australia, resulting in a sudden ability to travel.

Domestic flight bookings within Australia are up almost 700% and flight bookings to New Zealand have increased almost 200% since January 2022.

Flight bookings to Indonesia are up close to 400% in the last two months and flights to the U.S. have more than doubled. 

Travel spending swings towards experiences over ‘stuff’

Sentosa, Singapore

Globally, for the majority of the year, international tourists were seen spending more on experiences rather than things when in the destination.

This trend was also witnessed in Asia, where Singapore recorded one of the highest international tourist spending on experiences in destinations globally, with a 60% increase in spending from pre-pandemic levels through March 2022.

Other markets across the region, however, revealed a more mixed picture, with low levels of inbound tourism seen in Indonesia and South Korea, whose borders opened in April 2022.

This will be an important trend to watch for the rest of the year as ongoing travel restrictions across the region are gradually lifted, and Asia Pacific tourists begin to shop and spend abroad. 

Choice of travel destinations influenced by restrictions

Los Angeles, U.S.

Since the onset of the pandemic, trends reveal that people have been favouring travel destinations that are less complex to navigate amidst confusing entry and quarantine requirements, travel restrictions, and testing procedures.

As such, the U.S. remained the most popular choice for Asia Pacific travellers, followed by Australia, Singapore, the U.K., and Canada.

“Despite a delayed recovery, and numerous risks such as inflation impacting discretionary spending, travellers in Asia Pacific have demonstrated a strong desire to return to travel,” said David Mann, Chief Economist, Asia Pacific and Middle East Africa of the Mastercard Economics Institute.

“2022 will prove to be a significant year for the travel industry in Asia Pacific. As border restrictions relax we have witnessed an accelerated return to travel that indicates cause for optimism, with the region poised to swiftly catch up with the rest of the world.”

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