When will travel return? Industry insiders predict 2023

APAC decision makers expect full recovery only in two years, but there are bright spots.

Respondents expect quarantine requirements, the main factor preventing frequent fliers from travelling, to phase out by end-2022.
Respondents expect quarantine requirements, the main factor preventing frequent fliers from travelling, to phase out by end-2022. Photo Credit:Getty Images/grinvalds

A majority of key decisionmakers in APAC's travel industry expect recovery will not come until 2023, although quarantine requirements may phase out sooner than that, according to a recent report published by Collinson, the travel company behind the Priority Pass lounge programme, in partnership with CAPA.

Surveying 330 C-Suite and senior management representatives from the aviation and travel industry in 64 countries, the study found 65% of APAC respondents expect recovery in 2023 or later, including 9% not expecting a full recovery until 2025 or later. Overall, only 4% expect activity to return to 2019 levels this year and 31% expect the full return next year, the Asia Pacific Travel Recovery Report revealed.

Speaking at a CAPA Live event, Todd Handcock, President, Asia Pacific of Collinson, added that there are questions in APAC about whether countries can achieve herd immunity. "Global herd immunity is a key driver [in travel resumption]... Yet only 16% of respondents in APAC believe most countries in developed world will achieve herd immunity in the next year."

"Testing remains vital for safe resumption in the next two to three years. Even countries with high rates of vaccination are using testing as a stop gap," Handcock said.

Some 51% of respondents surveyed expect robust testing protocols to remain key until end of 2022, while a third expect that this will persist for the next three years.

A prior Collinson poll found that quarantine was the biggest reason preventing frequent fliers from travelling. "We've seen recent progress in APAC markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong in the area of quarantine reduction. However, even a seven-day quarantine is too long for most business travellers looking to make short trips. Up to 71% of travellers in Singapore, 57% in Hong Kong, and 49% in China are hesitant to travel."

The most recent report revealed some optimism within the industry that quarantine requirements ease soon. The survey found that almost half of Asian respondents believe quarantine measures will be phased out by end 2022, according to Handcock. "It is possible with the right testing procedures, assuming vaccination rates are high," Handcock commented. Globally, over half (58%) of respondents believe that this will happen even sooner, by the close of 2021.

"Despite business travel projecting slower recovery, companies need to start acting now to evolve existing meeting and travel protocols to ensure people feel protected, and also to meet corporate duty of care requirements with the new ISO 31030 travel risk standard," Handcock stressed.

A larger proportion of respondents in APAC (75%) believe that digital health passports are key to governments re-opening borders. Globally, 67% expressed that sentiment, while 25% disagreed.

However, there is a high level of skepticism surrounding health passports. Overall, 66% of respondents indicated they are concerned about fraudulent test results and vaccination documentations, the report shows.

"Despite some progress, complexities surrounding digital health passports remain, from interoperability, challenges between the different ones to personal data concerns that individuals have, to that issue of trust both from the public and between governments," Handcock pointed out.

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