Fitch Ratings | China’s lead on domestic travel gradually normalizing APAC tourism

Domestic tourism led by China is gaining traction, as the containment of the pandemic sets the stage for the gradual normalization of domestic activity in parts of the Asia Pacific region (APAC), according to a report issued by Fitch Ratings.
In the report from the American credit rating agency on “1Q2021 Update: Coronavirus Impact on APAC Tourism,” the group acknowledged that some of APAC’s most tourism-dependent economies, including the Maldives and Macau, have eased quarantine requirements for tourists with Covid-19 test certificates.
This move has led to a mild recovery in tourist arrivals for the fourth quarter of 2020.
During the last three months of 2020, the SAR has seen a slight increase in tourist arrivals, particularly in December, when the city welcomed a total of 659,407 visitors – up 3.6% when compared to November.
The majority of these visitors (606,884) hailed from mainland China.
“Arrivals in the Maldives have come predominantly from Russia, India and the U.K., while arrivals from China – its largest source market in 2019 – remain sluggish,” the report stated.
In China, meanwhile, domestic air travel has nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
A webinar hosted by PR Newswire in September stated that the tourism industry in mainland China has returned to about 90% of pre-Covid-19 levels, according to tourism experts.
One indicator of this recovery is the daily number of domestic flights across China.
Other countries in the APAC region have also seen signs of recovery in domestic flights.
Meanwhile, the number of visitor arrivals during Chinese New Year did not meet the expectations of Macau’s tourism bureau, which predicted the city would receive 16,000 to 20,000 visitors per day.
The SAR only welcomed an average of 12,945 arrivals per day, disappointing the sector.
“In the months ahead, we expect more governments to try to resume international travel via two-way ‘travel bubbles’, including those that were suspended due to the recent resurgence in the virus (i.e. Singapore-Hong Kong and Australia-New Zealand),” the group said.
“However, a broader and more sustained resumption of international tourism flows in APAC will likely only materialise beyond 2021.”

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