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How Did The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact Travel?

Uncovering travel patterns of the COVID-19 outbreak during festive holidays

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

Since COVID-19 started spreading worldwide in late 2019, certain countries took precautions by setting travel restrictions. So how did this impact those travelling from Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand?

Travel patterns of the three countries during the recent Lunar New Year were analysed using data from XACT, ADA’s proprietary Data Management Platform (DMP); and the results are rather surprising.

Ex-Malaysia Travel Patterns

  • There has been a steady decline of individuals leaving Malaysia since the first case was reported on 25 January 2020. 
  • Travel to Singapore dipped immediately after the first reported outbreak, but then gradually started to increase.
  • However, individuals travelling from Malaysia to Thailand remained unchanged. 

Ex-Singapore Travel Patterns

  • Similar to Malaysia’s travel pattern, there has been a steady decline of individuals leaving Singapore on 23 January 2020 – the day of the first reported outbreak.
  • However, there was a spike in travel from Singapore to Malaysia during the Lunar New Year long weekend.
  • Again, travel to Thailand remained unchanged, and in fact, continued to grow.

Ex-Thailand Travel Patterns

  • Although there was a slight dip in the overall number of individuals leaving Thailand, travel patterns remained steady. 
  • Rather surprising is that travel from Thailand to Malaysia and Singapore remained unchanged during the period of the first reported cases between 23 to 25 January 2020.


Ex-Malaysia: There was a steady decline in the number of individuals leaving Malaysia, but travel to Singapore picked up – this is likely due to the fact that Singapore is a business hub in the region. 

Ex- Singapore: Individuals in Singapore appear to be most cautious when it comes to travelling out-bound during the COVID-19 outbreak; however, there was no stopping those who travelled to Malaysia – likely returning to their home county – during the Lunar New Year. 

Ex-Thailand: Travel out of Thailand had troughs and peaks, but overall travel in- and out-bound remained unchanged, possibly due to lack of information about the situation of the outbreak in Thailand as well as language barriers in news reporting.

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