The restrictions on travel imposed in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 have had a significant negative impact on online travel sales and the performance of intermediaries. Expedia, the second largest online travel sales and intermediaries player in Hong Kong, announced in February 2020 that it was laying off 3,000 staff globally.
While the availability of travel products has been dramatically reduced as a result of efforts to contain COVID-19, online operators have been in the strongest position to tap into remaining and more future-orientated demand, as consumers have been confined to their homes. Several players have focused on domestic tourism.
Domestic tourism will be a key feature of the initial stages of recovery for online travel sales and intermediaries, as international travel remains subject to restrictions and issues such as quarantine, as well as enduring consumer concerns about contracting COVID-19. The urge to get closer to nature has been a notable feature of lockdown in many markets around the world, and Hong Kong is no exception.
Local markets, such as Macau, and mainland China, are expected to be the first to open up as restrictions are eased, with travel agents set to focus on the development of “local corridors”. Macau is likely to be amongst the first places Hong Kong residents look to go, especially as other destinations are perceived to pose a greater risk of infection with COVID-19.
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This report originates from Passport, our Travel Retail research and analysis database.