The pandemic has brought the global tourism industry to its knees, with the ASEAN+3 region having been particularly hard hit. Progress in COVID-19 vaccinations globally is paving the way for a recovery in travel and tourism, although any return to pre-pandemic levels is generally not expected until 2023 or later. Whereas high-frequency flight data may be useful early indicators of any turnaround, they are not “clean” in that they capture both business and tourism travel. Indeed, countries are prioritizing returning residents, essential business, and official travel when allowing or easing restrictions on entry.

This note uses near real-time global cruise ship “big data” as an innovative way of analyzing the turnaround in tourism. The aim is to better capture leading signs of “pure” tourism travel, as more international borders gradually reopen.