Governments worldwide have introduced domestic recovery schemes to boost tourism recovery, but with the threat of a spike in cases of COVID-19, these should be exercised with caution.
Although recovery schemes are important, mixed messages from governmental bodies – launching a scheme, revoking it and then re-instating it – will only add to the uncertainty and confusion in relation to COVID-19 and travel. The launch of a domestic recovery scheme is an efficient initiative to boost domestic travel but should only be launched when the time is right and with increased caution.
What remains clear is that domestic demand will recover at a quicker rate in comparison to international demand. A higher number of global respondents in GlobalData’s latest COVID-19 Recovery Survey (2 – 6 Dec 2020) declared they would book a domestic getaway this year (39% ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agree) in comparison to an international trip (29% ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agree). The same survey also highlighted concerns about the economic situation of respondents in their country of residence (97% stated they were ‘extremely’, ‘quite’ and ‘slightly’ concerned about this); this will drive domestic demand in the short-term as close proximity trips are significantly cheaper than international ones.
Many destinations have rolled out domestic tourism campaigns
Japan launched its ‘Go To Travel’ campaign in July 2020. Locals were offered large discounts on travel inside Japan, including a 35% reduction on accommodation and travel packages, alongside receiving 15% of their total travel cost back in coupons. On the 22 December 2020, this campaign was announced to be suspended from 28 Dec till 11 Jan 2021, as the country is now experiencing a spike in COVID-19 infections.
Singapore – a destination heavily reliant on inbound leisure and business travellers also launched the ‘Rediscovery’ credit scheme to spark domestic tourism. On 1 Dec 2020, locals were given $100 to spend on domestic attractions, experiences and services. The scheme created an uptick in domestic tourism demand and was proving to be a success. However, on 22 Dec 2020, the destination recorded its highest daily case tally since September, the majority were identified as imported, but now Singapore’s encouragement of domestic travel could be questioned.
The latest updates on IATA’s COVID-19 regulations display that international travel remains partially restricted worldwide. Destinations that do typically rely heavily on international tourism have had to increase their promotion of domestic travel in order to spark economic recovery. However, this strategy can simultaneously cause a spike in cases, reflecting that caution should remain critical.