“The north is still very closed. In China, borders are still 100 per cent closed, Japan probably 90 per cent closed, Taiwan the same. So we’ve seen this disparity in the region and therefore the rest of the globe. The Asia Pacific is falling behind the US and Europe in terms of recovery.”
Booking.com’s recent Travel Confidence Index polled 11,000 travelers across 11 countries in the Asia Pacific about how enthusiastic they felt about traveling internationally and accepting inbound visitors.
India ranked first on the confidence index. Many of India’s keen travellers are coming to Australia, making it now the second most common country of origin for arrivals into Australia behind New Zealand. Before the pandemic, India ranked seventh.
Japan seemed content with staying locked down, ranking last on the Travel Confidence Index, and Australia ranked fifth.
Houldsworth said that alternative accommodation such as “homestays and tree houses” had become a key market for Booking.com, which has traditionally focused on hotels.
“People are looking for something unique, something different. Globally, we have about 29 million listings, of which over 6 million are now alternative accommodations versus our core traditional hotel properties.”
Cost and flexibility were the main concern for the pandemic-fatigued travellers, said Houldsworth.
“Flexibility is the key. We’ve seen that globally as a trend. We had our biggest bookings for the upcoming European summer peak but a lot of those bookings were flexible bookings. People are wanting clarity and refund policies. They want to make sure that money is secure.”
Despite an enduring preference for domestic travel, about 40 per cent of Australians expected to travel overseas within the next six months. Five out of the top 10 international destinations for Australian travelers using Booking.com were in Bali.
“Beyond that, we see Singapore, London, Paris and Italy,” said Houldsworth.
Booking Holdings, the site’s parent company, posted a US$857 million net income for the quarter ending June 30, up 99 per cent from the same time last year. Gross travel bookings for the second quarter hit US$34.5 billion, surpassing Wall Street analysts’ expectations of US$32.96 billion.
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