After seeing their activity reduced, or even halted, for two and a half years by the pandemic, Asia’s airlines are now getting their planes back in the sky as border entry restrictions are lifted. All in all, next year could shape up to be a bumper year for tourism in Asia.
Japan has announced that it will reopen to all international visitors, allowing individual travel for tourism purposes to restart from October 11. Thailand, meanwhile, has ended its state of emergency in relation to Covid-19 and, as of October 1, it will no longer be necessary to present proof of vaccination or a negative test upon arrival to enter the country. In Vietnam, the visa waiver for stays of less than 15 days is once again valid, and a Covid test is no longer mandatory upon arrival. Similarly, in Hong Kong, foreign visitors are no longer required to quarantine on arrival.
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In short, the big hitters of the Asian tourism scene are gearing up to welcome back their visitors after two and a half years of pandemic. And things look set to boom in 2023. In September, compared to the same month last year, the number of seats available on flights to Southeast Asia surged by 200%, according to the airline capacity analysis site OAG. But, supply has yet to return to its pre-pandemic level, estimated at -28.5% compared to 2019. Still, many signals point to more tourists being drawn to the Asian continent. Thai Airways, for example, has decided to increase the frequency of its flights to Europe, while Vietnam Airlines has restarted its Paris-Hanoi route.
And hotel rates are not set to skyrocket, unlike in other world regions, where prices may soar by as much as 10%, as in Paris, according to a Travel Management Company report. Asia will see the smallest increase in rates. As such, it will be a good time to visit Singapore (+3.9%), Tokyo (+3%) or Hong Kong (+1.3%). By comparison, hotel nights could cost 9% more in Stockholm (Sweden) and 8.5% more in Dublin (Ireland). Hotel rates on the American continents are also predicted to rise: +8.2% in New York, +7.7% in São Paulo (Brazil), +7.3% in San Francisco. Meanwhile, rates could rise by +7% in Dubai.
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If 2023 should be a year of recovery for tourism on the Asian continent, the effect will still be limited by several factors. First, the extended flight times to some destinations due to the war in Ukraine. And second, the travel restrictions still in force in China, which impose a quarantine on arrival to business visitors, the only category of visitors allowed to enter, along with those invited by a Chinese university (upon the presentation of a letter).