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Sanya surpasses other APAC 'resort' destinations during holiday periods

Closed borders continue to limit the recovery ability of many destinations in the Asia Pacific region. However, Sanya, the southernmost city on China’s Hainan Island, continues to stand out thanks to high levels of domestic tourism. The market’s success in comparison with other resort destinations in the region has been especially evident during holidays.

In this latest piece, we look at those key periods in Sanya, Langkawi (Malaysia), Cebu (Philippines), Koh Samui & Koh Phangan (Thailand) and Nha Trang (Vietnam).

Sanya was one of the few metro markets around the globe to report 2020 year-over-year growth in revenue per available room (RevPAR). While that growth was largely driven by a 19.7% increase in average daily rate, it is important to note that the market’s occupancy came in at 55.8%, which was down just 12.6% from 2019—that could be a considered a win given the circumstances. In fact, in July 2020, Sanya’s year-to-date occupancy was trending ahead of the 2019 comparable at 72.3%.

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During Golden Week (1-7 October 2020), which has always been the peak season for domestic travel around the country, Sanya was a top choice for travelers within the country thanks in part to the implementation of duty-free purchases on the island. Sanya was the only market to see occupancy growth among the markets included in this analysis.

Langkawi, only accessible by sea or air, saw occupancy trail closely behind Sanya over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, but did manage to reach occupancy of 86.5% on 31 December. Malaysia’s hotel markets have been affected by repeated waves of the pandemic and the Movement Control Order (MCO) in an attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In more recent weeks, hotels saw increased cancellations due to MCO 2.0 even as the local development authority put in place tourism initiatives to revive domestic travel. Those movement controls led occupancy to start dropping on 1 January to single-digit levels even until the Lunar New Year.

The remaining three destinations in this analysis suffered a significant occupancy drop worse than 40% for 2020 overall. With a surge of COVID cases across Thailand in mid-December, the Koh Samui & Koh Phangan market performed slightly below Hua Hin and Pattaya, which are drive-to markets from Bangkok.

In Vietnam, Danang and Nha Trang are also depending on domestic tourism to fill in bookings like many other markets

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Cebu, with a good mix of city hotels and beach resorts, remains mostly closed even to domestic tourism, with public transports suspended and restrictions on land and sea travel since March 2020. One piece of good news for the market is that more uniform regulations on domestic travel were reviewed just weeks ago, which may have led to locals immediately tapping on opportunities to seek short trips to Cebu during February.

With Chinese New Year ending last month, the markets included in this analysis saw an increase in occupancy from prior weeks, except for Langkawi. Sanya again observed the strongest occupancy performance, reaching 85.9% on 19 February. Vietnam, which celebrates Tet, also saw a slight uptick during the first few days of the festive period, similar to Cebu and the Koh Samui area.

For further insights into COVID-19’s impact on global hotel performance, visit our content hub.