The tenacious, evolving nature of the pandemic has necessitated a constant review of border policies and pushed back border reopenings by some countries several times. Regional economies with high reliance on foreign travelers, such as Cambodia, Thailand and Hong Kong, have been hit hard. A full rebound in tourism is unlikely until the pandemic is under control globally through mass vaccinations.
Where domestic restrictions have been gradually lifted in economies with successful virus containment, domestic travel and tourism have resumed, giving a much-needed boost to the hard-hit sector. In several larger ASEAN+3 economies – China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam – domestic travelers accounted for the vast majority of visitors pre-pandemic and domestic tourism accounted for a large share of revenue in the industry.
Domestic tourism can also provide a boost to the industry in some economies where outbound tourism was much greater than inbound tourism before the pandemic. If money usually spent abroad shifts to the domestic economy, previously unheralded domestic tourism could benefit at least parts of their travel industry.
Even with the virus largely under control in several ASEAN+3 economies, open and unbridled international leisure travel as we once knew it is unlikely to be a reality any time soon. With cases surging globally, imported infections risk spilling over to the local community.