Asia Travel Re:Set #28 - 21 Statistics That Define Travel & Tourism in 2021 (So Far)

"It feels like we are hurtling back in time, yet standing perfectly still."

Hello. Welcome to Asia Travel Re:Set…

With Lunar New Year firecrackers pinging all around, it’s an abbreviated newsletter this week. Normal service resumes next Sunday.

Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year / Lunisolar New Year / Tet is ‘ordinarily’ a vibrant travel period across Asia Pacific. This year, however, marks the second consecutive Spring Festival under the dark, unforgiving cloud of COVID-19.

Overall, it’s a bust.

Even domestic travel is severely curtailed in many countries.

It feels like we are hurtling back several decades in time, yet standing perfectly still.

Nevertheless, the travel sector’s obsession with statistics continues. Future forecasts of all kinds appear around every corner - even though base data is a precious, un-mineable commodity.

So, with borders still mostly bolted - and behind-the-scenes, travel industry-government lobbying seemingly stepping up - I thought I’d recap 2021 so far.

Below is a curated list of 21 statistics that provide a snapshot of the current state of travel and tourism in Asia Pacific.

This week only, the newsletter features just the raw data.

For extra analysis of each of these 21 vital statistics, click to access the accompanying article on the new Asia Travel Re:Set Website.

Thanks for being on board,


Each Sunday, Gary Bowerman charts the week’s key talking points for visitor economies across Asia Pacific. 

The Sunday Itinerary

- DashBoard Special

  • From 2 to 300 billion in Asia Pacific so far in 2021…

21 Statistics That Define Travel & Tourism in 2021 (So Far)

  • 2: Air routes counting at least one airport in Asia Pacific on OAG’s Top 10 International Air Routes list, measured by seat capacity. Delhi-Dubai placed 2nd, and Seoul Incheon-Tokyo Narita 9th.

  • 3: Number of countries in Asia Pacific (China 16th, Indonesia 22nd, India 23rd) ranked in the Top 24 nations for COVID-19 vaccine doses administered per 100 people.

  • 5: The number of years forecast by Fitch Solutions / Bloomberg for Japan to return to its 2019 GDP level.

  • 30%: Dubai-based trans-continental carrier Emirates intends to increase its capacity by almost one-third over the next few years.

  • 38%: The international air travel recovery in 2021 could be as low as 38% of 2019 levels, or as high as 50%, says IATA.

Check out the new website:

  • 80.5%: The combined annual decline in international visitor arrivals across the 10 countries of South East Asia in 2020 compared to 2019.

  • 91: Royal Caribbean has extended its ‘Cruise to Nowhere’ sailing season in Singapore by 3 months. Cruises without port calls aboard Quantum of the Seas were due to finish on 22 March 2021, but will now continue until 21 June. 

  • 112: On 13 February, Melbourne commenced its 112th day of lockdown since the pandemic struck. A snap 5-day lockdown resulted from an outbreak apparently emanating in a quarantine hotel.

  • 123: Number of aircraft currently ‘parked’ by Singapore Airlines Group. 

  • 3,700: China intends to add another 3,700km of track to its national railway network in 2021.

Join travel professionals worldwide who enjoy a weekly digest of the top talking points in Asia Pacific…

  • 10,000: Number of patrons permitted into the casino area at any one time at The Star Sydney resort following an easing of restrictions. 

  • 71,000: Total passengers passing through Hong Kong International Airport in January 2021. This figure is 98.8% down from January 2020.

  • 250,000: Phuket wants to purchase vaccines from private sources to inoculate 250,000 of its approx. 400,000 residents in order to recommence inbound tourism from 1 October.

  • 1.5 million: Maldives has revised upwards its visitor arrivals target for 2021, from an initial projection of 1 million.

  • 10 million: Slated annual capacity at Macau International Airport following completion of its South Terminal extension later in 2021.

As South East Asia and Asia Pacific experience a 2nd consecutive Lunar New Year under the shadow of COVID-19, should travel marketers rethink their approach to public holiday tourism?

Plus, will shifting societal factors (and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics) impact the flow of outbound Chinese New Year tourists next year?

Listen to this week’s The South East Asia Travel Show podcast HERE

  • 30.18 million: Total passengers on domestic and international flight routes in China during January 2021.

Read the full article - with extra insights and analysis - HERE

And, that’s a wrap for this short-but-sweet Issue 28.

Until next week, you can find me on TwitterLinkedIn and the new Asia Travel Re:Set website.

This week’s The South East Asia Travel Show will take a (sadly, vicarious) behind-the-scenes peak at 6 months of tourism recovery in Maldives. Check it out on Wednesday.

And don’t forget to send comments and feedback to 

Have a great week,