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APAC tourism recovery continues as travel restrictions are lifted

APAC tourism recovery continues as travel restrictions are lifted

Pent-up demand has resulted in tourists to Thailand and Vietnam continuing to rise to record levels, showing a significant rise in ground transport bookings.

That is according to the latest travel trends report Bookaway Group.   

Traditionally, Thailand’s high season runs from November to February, whereas Vietnam’s high season is October to March and tends to see a peak in international inbound visits between October and December.

However, Bookway Group’s data trends show a positive reaction to the streamlining of approval processes for the Thai Pass and the lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions in Vietnam as of May 15th, with ground transportation booking rising for both bus and ferry rides.

The travellers are arriving predominantly from the UK, retaining its top spot from 2019 (for both Vietnam and Thailand). In Thailand, travellers from France and Germany take up second and third space respectively, with travellers to Vietnam from France, followed by Korea.

For Thailand, the number of tickets sold has climbed every month this year; March volumes were 61 per cent up on February, April was up 23 per cent on March, May up four per cent on April with data for June so far tracking towards parity with May. 

This upward trajectory comes despite the impact of the Omicron variant, earlier in the year, when volumes were constrained in January and February.

The growth suggests that travellers delayed rather than cancelled their trips.


Easing of restriction for inbound travellers has also helped drive volumes beyond the peak season.

The report also confirms that islands are becoming even more popular with tourists, reflected in an increase in ferry travel bookings across Bookaway Group’s brands.

So far in 2022, ferries have accounted for over 40 per cent of tickets sold in Thailand, compared with 2021 where numbers were just shy of 30 per cent across the year. 

Thailand island destinations are the most popular for the group this year, led by Koh Phi Phi and followed by Phuket and Ko Samui.

This dominance is driven by strong volumes on inter-island routes such as Koh Phi Phi - Phuket and Koh Samui - Koa Tao.

Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Samui are united in their reputation for stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, and combination of exciting nightlife and serene landscapes.

Meanwhile, Vietnam data trends also show that travellers are currently more willing than ever to let go of traditional time constrictions for travel, embracing travel at different times of the year.

March was ahead of February, with month-on-month increases ever since.

Should this trajectory continue, this will see June exceed May by 84 per cent and continue the promising trend of travel towards exceeding pre-Covid volumes.

Buses remain the most booked service of transportation, but the data also reports that travellers are choosing trains more and more.

So far this year around one-in-three bookings is rail, across 2021 it was just over one-in-ten, with the number of mini-van bookings dropping as a result.

Noam Toister, chief executive of Bookaway Group, said: “Our latest data builds on what we found earlier in the year and confirms that ‘pent-up demand’ is real.

“As more countries, including Vietnam and Thailand, lift the last remaining COVID restrictions, travellers start to book.

“Same as with indicators from airlines which also shows significant month-on-month and year-on-year increases in Asia Pacific, and from hotels where occupancies are on the rise, the ground transportation travel aligns with this data as together, the three create the overall travel experience.

“Tourism is a massive contributor to the economies of APAC and its positive news that travellers are not only returning but also traveling at different times of the year, spreading the benefits that tourism brings.”