Travel Agent NewsTravel agents are reporting brisk enquiries and bookings as eased restrictions drive travellers to make plans for holidays again.

Asia's travel comeback sends travel agents into a buzz

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Travellers now have lesser worries about their travel plans as borders reopen.
Travellers now have lesser worries about their travel plans as borders reopen. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/Sushiman

An ease in travel restrictions across Asian countries is steadily driving travel demand to its highest levels since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Each time Singapore announces a relaxation of pandemic restrictions, EU Holidays' director Ong Han Jie would see a spike in demand from Singapore travellers, a trend which started when the country's first vaccinated travel lanes were launched in September 2021.

Singapore's latest move to reopen the country from 1 April is no exception. For EU Holidays, "sales doubled" in the immediate days after the announcement, Ong told Travel Weekly Asia.

The greatest effect of Singapore's scrapping travel rules and restrictions is the easing of worries in travel planning, said Ong. "People are now more at ease with travelling, and their travel booking dates are pretty spread out," he added.

It's a similar story in the Philippines, which is reopening its borders from 1 April.

Since the country's reopening announcement was made, Michelle Taylan, who is president of Klik 'n Fly Travel and Tours as well as the Philippine Travel Agencies Association, said she has received "a spike in bookings" for longhaul travel to Turkey, Greece and Morocco — destinations which have no restrictions on Filipino travellers.

Thomas Cook India Limited's Madhavan Menon, Klik 'n Fly Travel and Tours' Michelle Taylan and EU Holidays' Ong Hanjie
Thomas Cook India Limited's Madhavan Menon, Klik 'n Fly Travel and Tours' Michelle Taylan and EU Holidays' Ong Hanjie

The pent-up demand for travel predicted throughout the height of the pandemic has arrived, according to Madhavan Menon, managing director of Thomas Cook India Limited.

"Since September 2021, after India had the second wave from May to August, we saw a resurgence in the number of people looking for holidays domestically and internationally to the Maldives and to some extent Dubai," said Menon.

As travel comes back, travellers are also showing a much stronger preference for customised tour packages, he noted, while group travel demand has been lagging.

Menon believes the next biggest challenge for travel agents would be to cope with the demand. "Demand is going to outstrip supply and as a result of the inflationary impact, travel costs are anywhere between 20 to 30% higher than pre-Covid."

These travel professionals, nevertheless, are keeping their fingers crossed for a recovery ride ahead.

"I foresee this will be a year of revenge travel. If no major disruption comes along, 2022 might be our best-ever year," said Ong.

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