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Travel policy shifts prove gamechangers amid strong hotel booking volumes

By Mike Ford, Founder at SiteMinder


At 85% of 2019’s record-breaking levels, hotel reservation volumes globally are the strongest they’ve been since late February of 2020.

And, as policy shifts sweep the Asia Pacific, early indications are that this is a figure that will only continue to rise, with travellers again proving that they’re both trusting and reactive when it comes to changing regulations.

Here’s a quick country level snapshot through the region:

  • In the Cook Islands, hotel booking momentum has already jumped to near pre-pandemic levels after restrictions were lowered last Saturday.
  • For Indonesian hotels, bookings have grown from 62% of 2019 volumes at the start of the month, to 76%, with all quarantine requirements now lifted. March has also seen reservations from international travellers again surpass 25%, up from just 10% in January.
  • Malaysia’s announcement that it will be quarantine-free from April 1 has ensured the country’s hotel booking momentum is back above 75%.
  • In New Zealand, the country’s decision to fast-track its opening plans has created a more than 20% increase in hotel booking momentum in the last week, and has seen bookings from international travellers exceed 10% for the first time since last June.
  • In the Philippines, bookings are again above 70% of pre-pandemic levels, with all foreign tourists welcome from April 1. In step with the evolved restrictions, international travellers are exceeding 30% of reservations made this month of March (and are currently set to make up more than 45% of hotel arrivals in August).
  • Thailand, too, is eyeing April 1 as a date of significance, with the planned abolishment of its pre-travel Covid test pushing bookings back up above 60% of 2019 levels. International travellers to the country are also growing, making up more than 50% of bookings to local hotels through March, up from just 14% 12 months ago.
  • Finally, in Vietnam, which announced an end to quarantine for international travellers last week, reservations have already seen a 25% increase.

Other countries in the region, like Fiji and Australia, have also experienced a March uptick. Fiji, a current favourite among Aussie travellers re-engaging with international travel, is again approaching its pre-pandemic volumes, with Easter and July set to be peak periods. Meanwhile, Australia, which is above its 2019 volumes for the first time since last May, is being led by domestic bookings to Far North Queensland.

In spite of the Asia Pacific largely continuing to rebuild, the majority of the world’s strong hotel booking momentum continues to be driven elsewhere. In the Americas, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and the U.S. each remain above the global average, while in Europe, there’s no evidence of a slowdown of hotel bookings on SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index thus far.

To the contrary, with hotels in Estonia, Iceland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden all accepting more bookings than at this same time in 2019—and with France, Ireland and the UK all receiving more than 90% of their pre-pandemic levels in hotel bookings—it’s clear that more travellers are anticipating a summer away from home in comparison to the last two years. This is especially true among international travellers. It will be particularly interesting to watch the UK’s hotel bookings in the coming months. With all remaining Covid travel restrictions now lifted for arrivals, we’ve already witnessed a jump in bookings from international guests, rising to 28% so far in March – their highest point in over two years.

So, that’s it for this month. Stay safe, be kind, and as usual I will be back in April to bring you the key trends in travel via the World Hotel Index.

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