Coronavirus: Travel bookings from across Asia slump

The downturn in travel caused by the coronavirus outbreak has spread beyond China to affect most of the Asia Pacific region, new flight bookings analysis reveals.

Outbound travel bookings for March and April – which includes the Easter period – are down by more than half from China and 10.5% from other countries in the area, excluding trips to and from China and Hong Kong.

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The setback looks likely to be most marked in North East Asia, where outbound bookings for March and April, are 17.1% behind where they were at the equivalent time last year.

Bookings from South Asia are 11% down; South East Asia 8.1% and Oceania 3%.

The all-important Chinese outbound market is much more severely affected, according to latest data from travel analytics firm ForwardKeys.

Bookings for March and April are set to be just 55.9% of what they were at the equivalent point for spring travel in 2019.

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Forward bookings to Asia Pacific are 58.3% behind; with bookings to Europe 36.7% down; Africa and the Middle East 56.1% behind and 63.2% down to the Americas.

Outbound travel from China fell by 57.5% in the three weeks following the imposition of government travel restrictions.

Travel to all parts of the world suffered severe downturns.

Trips to Asia Pacific, which receives three quarters of the Chinese outbound market, dropped by 58.3%; to Europe by 41.7%; Africa and the Middle East 51.6% and to the Americas by 64.1%.

ForwardKeys insights vice president Olivier Ponti said: “The world’s largest and highest spending outbound travel market, China, is in severe difficulty; cancellations are growing by the day and the trend is now spreading to surrounding countries.

“On the brighter side, however, we are not seeing a slowdown in travel outside the Asia Pacific region, so this is a moment to fill the void by studying alternative origin markets and focusing promotional efforts on them.

“We will be monitoring the situation carefully because in a disease outbreak like this, travel trends can change quickly and different markets are likely to respond differently.”

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