If travel restrictions are lifted between Singapore and another country such that you don’t have to quarantine yourself upon arrival, you should take advantage of it immediately – chances are, you’ll be able to get great deals on hotels and attractions, without the crowds and queues.
So says James Liang, chairman and co-founder of Trip.com Group, a China-based travel services group which runs four platforms: Trip.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner and Qunar. These aggregate information on prices of hotels, flights and other products to help travellers get the most bang for their buck.
What everyone wants to know is, when can we travel internationally again? What’s your prediction?
I don't see it happening in a big way in Q3, but we should see more countries forming these quarantine-free zones by Q4… You know, I honestly can’t predict when things would return to normal. It's up to the virus and medical technology. But given what the stock market is doing now, it does seem that many people are predicting that things will return to normal soon. Travel stocks have regained 30 to 50 per cent of their losses. And within the next six months, they would probably go up to 80 to 90 per cent of their pre-pandemic levels. So people are certainly optimistic.
What about travel between Asia and Europe, and Asia and the US?
Oh, that’ll be much later. That will come last. Probably early next year.
If the middle-class is embracing domestic travel in a big way, what are the wealthy up to?
They are also spending their money on domestic travel, and they’re opting to bring entire families to these huge theme parks where they stay for a few days and enjoy the many attractions within the parks. China today has some of the best tourist sites in the world and the pandemic has actually made wealthy Chinese go to these attractions instead of travelling abroad. Chimelong, for instance, is a major operator of theme parks. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom has the largest oceanarium in the world. Chimelong Safari Park is the biggest wildlife theme park in Asia. And then there are also these mini towns that are inspired by, say, the Song dynasty or the Han dynasty.
All these attractions are so huge, you can spend a few days there. So that’s where the wealthy are going to these days – because the hotels in these theme parks are not that cheap to begin with. When we get over this pandemic, I actually think these domestic attractions will get more investments, and high-end domestic travel products will get a boost.
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