Is vaccine optimism in the air for tourism sector in Malaysia?

The global vaccination rollout is beginning to spur the return of travel, according to a recent report. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

More than a year after the tourism industry was brought to a standstill by the Covid-19 pandemic, the global vaccine rollout is beginning to spur the return of travel.

The start of 2021 saw travel turn a corner with monthly search volumes showing strong growth throughout the first quarter of the year, according to Expedia’s Q1 2021 Travel Recovery Trend Report.

According to the report, the increase in searches and traveller demands is linked with the growing momentum of Covid-19 vaccines rollouts and loosening of travel guidelines.

“We are seeing positive shifts – especially as vaccines roll out more broadly – and signs that traveller optimism is on the rise, ” said Expedia Group Media Solutions senior vice president Wendy Olson Killion.

She added that hope is on the horizon for the coronavirus-battered tourism industry. Many people, according to Killion, are eager to start travelling again.

The report highlights that travel “bubbles” and corridors for safer air travel between countries also correspond with the increasing confidence in the leisure travel sector.

The report also found that domestic travel will be the focus among travellers for the foreseeable future.

“Even with Covid-19 vaccine distribution ramping up, many travellers are continuing to take trips closer to home – opting for beach and city destinations – and choosing car travel as their preferred mode of transportation, ” Expedia said.

In a nod to the concept of “revenge tourism”, many travellers are making up for lost time by taking longer trips.

“To make up for lost time, travellers are finally using their full vacation days and taking advantage of more flexible working conditions with ‘flexcations’ – a longer stay mixing work and play.

“This is resulting in longer trips, as well as a strong increase in vacation rental demand quarter-over-quarter, ” Expedia said.

It’s worth noting, however, that the findings of the Expedia report are catered to the US travel market.

Closer to home, AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said that the national vaccine rollout in Malaysia will allow airlines to make a faster comeback.

This view is shared in a recent report by Rothschild and Co which concludes that travel sentiment is improving on vaccine efforts and combined with pent up demand.

The report highlights that web traffic for major airlines and broader travel websites indicate a surge in web traffic for regions with high vaccination rates.

Malaysia is currently on phase two of the national immunisation plan, with vaccines expected to be administered to 9.4 million people comprising the elderly, the chronically ill and people with disabilities.

The second round of AstraZeneca opt-in is open in several states for senior citizens first on May 23.

A total of 1.1 million doses of the vaccine will be made available to the public in this round.

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vaccination , Covid-19 , safe travel , Expedia , vaccine


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