Global travel statistics of 2021 so far, defining the industry’s outlook

OVER the past decade, the travel industry has become increasingly commoditised. Destination marketing now centres almost exclusively on how many people might visit, how long they will stay and – crucially – how much they may spend in any given week, month or year.

Since COVID-19 struck, data analysis has taken a different approach. With little base travel data to utilise, forecasting has relied upon legacy statistics, a raft of economic variables, COVID-19 risk assessments and travel sentiment surveys.

Based on the DashBoard selection of 21 defining travel statistics from 2021 so far, the figures provide a snapshot of the current state of travel and tourism, helping us define the way we view the aviation and hospitality industry.

From 300 billion down to two in Asia Pacific

JPY300 billion: Japan Airlines expects to post a spectacular net loss for its full 2020-21 financial year, ending on Mar 31, 2021. The forecast, featured in the airline’s 3Q 2020 results statement, has deteriorated from a previous loss forecast of ¥240-270 bil, which was made in October 2020. The elevated annual loss comes despite JAL slashing expenses by “over ¥120 bil for the fiscal year”, said the company’s statement.

VND70 bil: Vietjet Aviation, the parent company of VietJet – Vietnam’s largest and most ambitious low-cost carrier – reported an impressive 2020 post-tax profit of 70 billion Vietnamese dong. In 2020, Vietjet operated 78,462 flights and carried more than 15 million passengers. According to the company statement, ancillary services accounted for 50% of total revenue last year.

369,846,852: Total private placement for a first tranche of new shares issued by Malaysia-based low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd. Each share will be priced at RM0.675, as stated in an official filing with Bursa Malaysia.

152.15 million: Best case scenario for total international visitor arrivals into Asia Pacific in 2021, set out by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). The ‘medium’ scenario is 82.04 million, and the ‘severe’ case would be 42.07 million. Earlier this week, PATA CEO Dr Mario Hardy said that he expects the region to achieve “somewhere between Mild and Medium” in 2021.

33.5 million: According to Vietnam Plus, Ho Chi Minh City has set a target to attract 33.5 million domestic travellers in 2021.

30.18 million: Based on data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the total number of passengers on domestic and international flight routes in China during January 2021 reached 30.18 million. This marked a 40.4% decline from 50.6 million in the same 2020 period.

1.5 million: Maldives has raised its visitor arrivals target for 2021, from an initial projection of 1 million to 1.5 million. According to Sun Media, the island archipelago reopened its borders on 15 July. It is also working to promote vaccine tourism, under an initiative called “The 3 Vs: Visit, Vaccine and Vacation tourism.

250,000: Phuket wants to purchase vaccines from private sources in order to inoculate 250,000 of its approx. 400,000 residents before the nationwide rollout commences in mid-year. Phuket authorities believe an expedited vaccine progamme would enable it to recommence inbound tourism from Oct 1, 2021 (which coincides with China’s Golden Week public holiday, a popular time for travel to Thailand). The Phuket Times reported that the Phuket authorities have submitted an appeal to the Thailand government regarding its prohibition on the private purchase and distribution of officially approved COVID-19 vaccines.

71,000: Total passengers passing through Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) reached 71,000 in January 2021. This represented a 98.8% decrease from the 5.718 million recorded in January 2020. From February 2020 to January 2021, HKIA handled 3.188 million passengers – significantly below the one-month total in January 2020.

3,700: China intends to add another 3,700km of operating lines to its national railway network in 2021. It currently counts 37,900km of high-speed railway, the longest network in the world.

123: Number of aircraft currently parked by Singapore Airlines stands at 123. The airline group says “More aircraft will be re-introduced into our operating fleet as the network gradually expands to match opportunities for re-opening.” According to company statements, by the end of April, SIA forecasts total passenger capacity to be “around 25% of pre-Covid levels.”

80.5%: The combined annual fall in international visitor arrivals across the 10 countries of ASEAN in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the Asean Tourism Ministers’ meeting.

38%: “’COVID variant’ scenarios demonstrate how the downside risk to the forecast could limit (an international air travel) recovery to 38% of 2019 levels” in 2021, said International Air Transport Association (IATA) CEO Alexandre de Juniac. The optimistic forecast from IATA is for a 50% recovery compared to 2019. This comes after 2020 represented “the biggest fall in demand ever.”

30%: This week, in an interview with CAPALive, Emirates president Tim Clark said that the Dubai-based carrier plans to increase its capacity by almost one-third (30%) over the next few years.

Five: The number of years forecast for Japan to return to its 2019 GDP level, according to Fitch Solutions/Bloomberg. By comparison, Thailand and Philippines are forecast to take two years, with one year each for India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Macau, Singapore and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, China has already recovered its lost output.

Three: Number of countries in Asia Pacific (China 16th, Indonesia 22nd, India 23rd) that rank in the Top 24 nations worldwide for vaccine doses administered per 100 people. The top five on the list are the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israel, Chile, UK and the US.

Two: Number of air routes counting at least one airport in Asia Pacific on the Top 10 International Air Routes list, which is measured by seat capacity. Delhi-Dubai ranked 2nd, and Seoul Incheon-Tokyo Narita 9th. – Feb 15, 2021

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