Japan Finally Shows Signs of Recovery: Skift Travel Health Index

Skift grip

Unsurprisingly poor travel performance in Russia and China suppresses an otherwise strong continuation of the March 2022 travel recovery that ultimately saw Japan make some gains, according to our Skift Travel Health Index. .

Wouter Geerts

As borders reopen, Japan is finally seeing some improvements in travel performance, according to the latest Skift Travel Health Index update.

The country has relaxed border controls imposed to counter the pandemic since March 2020. From the beginning of March 2022, the authorities increased the number of people allowed to enter to 5,000 per day, against 3,500 previously.

These are small steps in the right direction, but the country, once a top tourist beacon, still has some way to go. The country has seen some improvement in performance over the past few months, with tour operators starting to sell tickets for future trips in preparation for reopening, Japan remains one of the worst performing countries in our index. Travel performance remains below 50% of pre-pandemic levels.

Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore are also performing well as these countries continue to open up. In late February and early March, Singapore began allowing the return of fully vaccinated travelers from countries including Hong Kong, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Israel.

Thailand eased its rules on entry testing and Indonesia opened a corridor with Malaysia on March 1.

Global travel performance improves slightly

March saw a slight improvement in the overall Skift Travel Health Index score, although the big jump from the previous month could not be emulated. The global average score is now 75, up from a baseline of 100 in March 2019.

Russia and China see their performance deteriorate

At the bottom of our ranking, the war in Ukraine continues to weigh heavily. That said, the impact does not appear to have extended beyond the direct vicinity of the conflict, with most European countries performing well in March.

Russia saw the biggest drop in performance of any country in March as international sanctions continued to dampen performance, although domestic travel performance remained relatively strong, and even abroad Russians continued to have travel options.

At the end of March, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an invoice to help boost domestic aviation, setting aside around $1 billion to compensate Russians who book domestic travel. The exact details are unknown, but it’s likely the program will operate as a cashback service, copying earlier programs introduced at the start of the pandemic. At the time, local tourism authorities reimbursed up to 20% for hotel and tour bookings made through Russian online travel agents (OTAs).

China is another underperforming country as it grapples with a new wave of Covid cases, prompting city lockdowns and mass testing. Looking at the numbers, China still had one of the lowest rates of new cases of any country we track, but it saw a big increase in cases month-over-month (although at from a low base).

The travel industry is feeling the impact of the country maintaining a strict zero-Covid policy. Data from our data partner Shiji Group Shows that new hotel bookings and overnight stays had fallen to early pandemic levels after a year of fairly consistent performance at pre-pandemic levels or better.