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Travel restrictions are being eased across Asia as plans for new hotel construction on the continent reach all-time highs. With a tourism rebound on track, Airbus expects demand for thousands of new planes in the Asia-Pacific market. Travel and tourism will continue to be a key driver of improving economic conditions in Asian emerging markets.

From Bangkok to Bali, the tourism recovery will be felt most imminently in Southeast Asia, where travelers from most nations have been welcomed back in recent weeks. CDC guidance considers Japan remains a “very high” risk destination and the Japanese government is proceeding toward any re-opening with caution. Meanwhile, China is grappling with their own “Zero-COVID” policy that threatens to curtail a full recovery for other tourism markets as well.

Related ETFs & Stocks: Defiance Hotel, Airline, and Cruise ETF (CRUZ), iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM), Marriott International, Inc. (MAR), Hyatt Hotels Corporation (H), Airbus SE (EADSY)

Asian Nations Attempt to Overcome Omicron, Open Their Borders

Though Bloomberg writes that some parts of Asia, most notably China and Hong Kong, are maintaining their “COVID-Zero” strategies, other nations across the continent are taking steps to rejuvenate their travel industries as they learn to live with the reality of the coronavirus – unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

Southeast Asia has seen some of the most significant developments in recent weeks:

The Philippines reopened to international tourists from 157 countries last Thursday for the first time in almost two years.

In neighboring Indonesia, tourist hub Bali has expanded its re-opening to most international vacationers after green-lighting travelers from just 19 countries since October. For now, international arrivals will still need to quarantine for three days after entering the country, but Indonesia is considering lifting all quarantine requirements for inbound travelers by April.

Just yesterday, Vietnam lifted coronavirus restrictions on international flights. Commercial passenger flights can now arrive in Vietnam from any country for the first time since it sealed its borders in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 via air travel.

Each of these easings are subject to vaccination requirements.

It may be some time before we see similar re-openings in other regions of Asia. According to CNN, Japan was added to Level 4 (the highest level) of the CDC’s list of high risk destinations this month, which has swelled to almost 135 places, up from around 80 destinations listed in January. Level 4 now has more destinations than all the other CDC categories combined, largely due to the accelerated spread of the omicron variant through the end of January.

The Japan Times has reported the government plans to begin accepting more than 1,000 people per day soon, and gradually raise the cap to several thousand, but students and business visitors will be getting priority and take up most of that cap.

Return of Tourism Business a Major Boon for Asian Economies

Asia is home to some of the largest and fastest-growing emerging market economies and travel is a major key to that vibrancy. As Liz Ortiguera, CEO of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), recently told Skift, “Pre pandemic, the travel sector has been such an engine for growth in terms of jobs creation — one in ten jobs in Asia Pacific is travel and tourism related. And it will return to that…”

The hotel business seems to agree with that assessment, planning a major expansion of accommodations across the continent. According to the recent Construction Pipeline Trend Report from Lodging Econometrics (LE), Asia Pacific’s total hotel construction pipeline, excluding China, at the end of the fourth quarter of 2021 stands at 1,814 projects, representing 397,089 rooms. Project counts are up 5%, while…

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