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Indonesian travel service unicorn Traveloka announced this week that it has raised US $250 million in a funding round, as it plans to survive falling demand for travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The start-up said in a statement that the funding round was led by a "global financial institution" but included existing investors, like its early backer East Ventures.
The new capital injection is expected to bolster the 8-year-old start-up’s efforts to deepen its offerings towards building a travel and lifestyle portfolio in key markets. The travel aggregator is planning a strategy for the ‘new normal’ by focusing on domestic tourism and what it calls short hop excursions and activities. Their new offers include online experiences, flights with COVID-19 tests, flexible open-date vouchers for hotels, and flash sales on livestreams. They are also offering holiday accommodation with standardised hygiene protocols which people can book on their site.
As Southeast Asian countries shut borders and imposed strict lockdowns, the previously booming tourism industry in the region of 650 million people had been badly affected.
Traveloka, alongside other service providers, suffered a major blow following the COVID outbreak. The company was forced to lay off 10% of its workforce earlier in April as it needed to slash overheads after seeing a "massive amount" of requests for refunds from customers whose travel plans were cancelled due to the pandemic.
As domestic travel restrictions started to ease, the Jakarta-based firm's chief executive said it "was seeing an encouraging recovery across its key markets" due to a resurgence in travel and bookings by local holiday planners.
"Our business in Vietnam has returned to 100% pre-COVID-19 level and Thailand has surpassed 50% pre-COVID-level," Traveloka co-founder & CEO Ferry Unardi said in a statement.
This is heartening news for an industry that has been plagued by uncertainty since the pandemic.
Established as a flight aggregator in 2012, the start-up expanded beyond Southeast Asia for the first time in 2019 when it launched services in Australia. Traveloka has branched out into financial services and also offers lifestyle activities on its platform now.
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