According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), travel by air has increased sharply in the northern hemisphere during the summer, the peak of the travelling season. Total air traffic in August increased by 75% compared to the same period in 2021. Notably, Asia witnessed the strongest recovery of air travel with air traffic more than tripling.
Data released by the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) showed that the number of foreign tourists to the East Asian country reached 206,500 in September, up 11 times over the same period last year. This was also the first time the number of visitors exceeded the figure of 200,000 per month since February 2020. The signal of the prosperity of the tourism industry is thanks to the Japanese Government’s policy of removing border control measures. Japan no longer limits the number of people entering the country by day and allows individual travel without the obligation to follow tours. This policy is expected to significantly increase the number of international visitors to Japan, especially in autumn, which is considered the golden period of the country's tourism industry.
Positive growth signals were also recorded in Indonesia. The country welcomed more than 1.73 million international tourists in the first eight months of 2022, an increase of more than 20 times over the same period in 2021. The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia, launched the Tourism Village Award to find the 50 best tourism villages in the country, to encourage the creativity of the localities and help revive tourism destinations that have been affected by the pandemic. The Indonesian government aims to create 4.4 million new jobs in the tourism sector by 2024, contributing to increasing job opportunities for people and helping to improve community welfare.
Amid soaring prices and limitations of accommodation in Doha (Qatar), the host of the 2022 World Cup Finals, Gulf nations have strategized to increase daily flights and ease travel requirements to attract football fans to cheer. Saudi Arabia will issue the 60-day visa to holders of the Hayya card, a mandatory card issued to those who have purchased tickets for the 2022 World Cup. Weekly flights from Saudi Arabia to Qatar will rise from six to 240 in a month. Saudi Arabia also built a new 10-lane border route, thereby minimizing cross-border road traffic time and giving tourists an alternative option instead of staying in Doha, where more than one million fans are expected to stay.
The increasingly fierce competition in the tourism industry has become the impetus for many countries to cooperate. Thailand and the Republic of Korea (RoK) have been enhancing cooperation to revive the tourism industry in both countries, as most of the travel restrictions have been lifted. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, Thailand was the country with the highest number of tourists to the RoK in Southeast Asia. When the pandemic situation began to subside, the RoK maintained certain travel restrictions, causing many tourists to divert to other countries. Gyeonggi Tourism Organisation and Korean Air have coordinated with each other, organising a tour for travel agents and tour operators from Thailand, to promote new tourist destinations in Gyeonggi, the most populous province in the RoK, with a population of 13 million.
Despite gradually flourishing again, Asia’s tourism industry is forecasted to overcome many challenges to fully recover. The shortage of human resources, the slow growth of the global economy, high inflation and the risk of a more obvious recession, will create turbulence in the recovery process of the smokeless industry.