Singaporeans are among the region's most optimistic when it comes to travelling across borders, with eight in 10 (81%) expecting international travel to resume fully by 2H 2021, according to the UOB ASEAN Consumer Sentiment Study, which was conducted just after Singapore emerged from its circuit breaker period.
Across Southeast Asia, consumers in Singapore and Vietnam were the most optimistic that travel would return by mid-2021 (both 81%), followed by Indonesia (76%), Thailand (75%) and Malaysia (74%). Seventeen per cent of Malaysians said they thought international travel was more likely to resume fully in two to three years at the earliest, the highest response rate in the region for those who shared the same sentiment.
While Singaporeans were among the most optimistic in the region about when international travel will return, they were also among the most cautious when it came to whether they would actually begin travelling.
Only one in five respondents said they will embark on a business trip (22%) or go on a holiday (21%) the first opportunity they got. This contrasts to business travellers in Vietnam where more than three in five (62%) said they would begin business travel as soon as possible. Even more urgent is the desire for leisure travel among Vietnamese respondents, with one in two (54%) wanting to get away sooner rather than later.
Given the health concerns posed by Covid-19, a key factor for all travellers across ASEAN is having travel and health insurance cover. Two in three Singapore business travellers (64%) and seven in 10 leisure travellers (68%) said they would not travel without such coverage.
Meanwhile, Singaporeans are taking to creating holiday experiences at home. Spend on UOB cards for Singapore-based hotel bookings jumped close to 70 per cent in July 2020 compared with the previous month. It was up another 65 per cent in August, indicating the growing popularity of staycations among Singapore residents.