VALENCIA, 29 April 2021: In a year full of bad news, the
latest analysis by ForwardKeys captures how the recently launched Trans-Tasman
bubble between Australia and New Zealand is offering a spark of hope for travel
retailers, airports and tourism organisations.
A day after the 6 April announcement forming a
quarantine-free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand, issued tickets
reached 101% of 2019 volumes.
ForwardKeys VP Insights Olivier Ponti commented: “We
are observing the reactivation of travel and the release of pent-up demand. The
shape of the revival is very much in line with what we have been expecting.
Leisure travel is leading the charge, as many people have been longing to take
a holiday, and they have seized the opportunity immediately.”
Analysis of the major routes between the two countries
reveals that the bulk of bookings, 46%, are between the three major cities on
Australia’s east coast, Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne, and New Zealand’s
biggest city, Auckland. Bookings between those cities and New Zealand’s second
city Christchurch represent 15%.
The leisure market drives recovery
Analysis of traveller profile shows leisure travel leading
the way and business travel lagging. 91% of bookings were for leisure travel
and 9% for business.
A quick look at comparative market shares reveals that
bookings to Queenstown, which promotes itself as “the adventure capital of
the world”, have performed exceptionally well.
Overall, bookings made from the whole of Australia to New
Zealand in the period 6 to 14 April were 37% behind those made in the equivalent
period in 2019, but bookings to Queenstown were 2.5% ahead of pre-COVID levels.
Closer inspection of travel timing suggests strong pent-up
demand for winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding, because 72% of the
bookings to Queenstown are for arrival between June and October 2021 – the
popular ski season in New Zealand.
The hope for the quick return of normality and happy
holidays is apparent.
New post-pandemic trends to observe
Another interesting trend is the trend to stay longer. A
growing number of travellers from Australia are choosing to stay over 14
nights. As the chart below demonstrates, it’s grown by 32% when compared to
2019 figures. Even the average length of stay has increased from 7.1 nights to
“Perhaps this is a sign of “cabin fever”,
people haven’t had the chance to travel, and now that they can, they wish to
get away for longer and even splurge on themselves,” says Ponti.
This may be the case as there has also been an 8% increase
in bookings for business class cabins. Upon closer inspection of the passenger
profile regarding the issued tickets between April 6 and 14, solo travellers
and couples lead the pack.
Travel bubbles between regional neighbours such as this one
may be the first step forward in mending the gap in travel, helping the fragile
industry get back up on its feet.