Traditional booking patterns will no longer apply this year as countries in the Asia Pacific region start to slowly ease Covid-19 lockdown measures along with border restrictions.
The message came from Pacific Asia Travel Association UK & Ireland chairman Chris Crampton as tentative moves are made towards welcoming tourists back.
Many destinations have reopened to domestic travel, testing new policies and protocols ahead of the return of international travellers.
Crampton said: “It feels good to be on the road to recovery after what has been one of the most challenging times in history for the travel industry.
“As the region’s countries begin to ease lockdown and travel restrictions, it is vital, for the survival of our industry and tourism to the region, that we work together to ensure a steady recovery.
“Through reliable and concise information and co-ordinated actions our priority is to reassure the trade, and consumers, to help boost confidence in travelling once again.”
He added: “Consumers’ desire to travel is still strong and there is significant pent up demand but, understandably, travellers are looking for more flexibility now and I believe we will see a structural change in changes to booking terms and conditions.
“Traditional booking patterns won’t apply this year and there will be a much shorter book to travel time as consumers remain cautious.
“November, for example, is cited to be an unusually busy month for bookings as consumers book last minute 2020 winter sun and trips for Q1 2021.
“Our members and businesses in the region that adapt quickly to changing consumer behaviour and demands will have a competitive advantage that could prove crucial in hastening their recovery.”
Carriers serving the region, such as Malaysia Airlines, are rejigging fare structures and introducing more flexible options.
But David Kevan, partner and product manager at specialist operator Chic Locations, said: “I can’t see most of SE Asia opening up to UK arrivals until November – with limited flights – increasing gradually into December.
“However, I think the UK will remain a ‘red zone’ country for some time so British travellers will be amongst the last to be accepted into much of the region, sadly.
“I expect to see clients making bookings for SE Asia in Q4 but generally with departures in Q1/2 of 2021.
“We are seeing good demand for escapist resorts rather than cities and I feel airline schedules will reflect this.
“Tremendous interest in the Maldives, in our view one of the safest destinations given its unique style, but still somewhat illogically on the UK FCO ‘only travel if essential list’.”
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