(CNN) — Asia-Pacific is home to some of the world’s most beloved travel destinations, from the natural beauty of Bali to the urban buzz of Singapore. These dreamy vacation hotspots – coupled with the region’s business strength – secured Asia-Pacific the title of the world’s largest travel region for much of the past decade.
Where air traffic in the Asian Pacific once accounted for more than a third of all global passenger travel, aviation in the region is lagging by 45% compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to CAPA.
Meanwhile, CAPA suggests European air traffic has recovered to about 85% of pre-pandemic levels, even explaining the ongoing impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Japan will fully reopen on October 11. Shown here: Fushimi Inari Shrine in Japan
In 2019, 3.38 billion passengers traveled through airports in Asia-Pacific. In contrast, CAPA reports that current forecasts from ACI Asia-Pacific — an industry association that represents airports in the region — indicate that 1.84 billion passengers will have passed through Asia-Pacific travel hubs by the end of 2022.
“What happens there is having an inordinate impact on the rest of the region,” said CAPA of China and Japan, pointing out that they are two of the major travel markets in the region.
CAPA reports that most travel in Asia-Pacific destinations remains 50% or more below the 2019 level, with only a few exceptions, such as India, which is only 11% below the 2019 figure.
Domestic travel in Asia-Pacific is recovering faster than international travel, CAPA notes — domestic travel within China, for example, is down just 5.4% compared to 2019 levels.
Overall, CAPA predicts that Asia-Pacific won’t see a full return to pre-pandemic travel figures until late 2023 or early 2024.
“Even then, recovery will depend on countries opening their borders and ending ongoing travel restrictions, as well as broader economic and epidemiological situations,” the report reads.
CAPA calls for “harmonization of international travel rules” and “political commitments to openness and freedom of movement”, as well as a continued vaccination campaign to facilitate travel recovery.
Top photo of the Great Wall of China courtesy of Powerstock/Adobe Stock