Traveloka, South-east Asia’s largest online travel app, announced yesterday that it had raised US$250 million (S$345 million) to bolster its operations amid the coronavirus crisis, and as domestic travel starts to pick up in the region of 650 million people.
The eight-year-old start-up said its funding round was led by a “global financial institution” and included existing investors, such as early backer East Ventures.
Earlier backers include American travel giant Expedia, Chinese online retailer JD.com and Singapore state wealth fund GIC.
Traveloka, which claims more than 60 million downloads, has been battered by the virus outbreak, as South-east Asian countries shut borders and imposed strict lockdowns, throttling a previously booming tourism industry.
The start-up has cut jobs, with one of its affiliates, Indonesian hotel aggregator Airy Rooms, shutting down.
But as domestic travel restrictions start to ease in the region, 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 activity bookings by local holiday-makers.
“Our business in Vietnam has returned to 100 per cent pre-Covid-19 level and Thailand has surpassed 50 per cent pre-Covid-level,” Traveloka co-founder and CEO Ferry Unardi said.
He noted that both Indonesia and Malaysia were also seeing “strong week-to-week improvement”.
The Thai authorities unveiled last month a US$722 million subsidy to spur domestic travel, while both Vietnam and Singapore have announced extensive local tourism promotion campaigns.
The Indonesian island of Bali plans to reopen to local tourists this week and to international travellers on Sept 11. According to Mr Unardi, Traveloka will use the new funding to bolster its balance sheet and boost its domestic travel offerings as well as its financial offerings.
A source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that the lead investor on the round was the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Qatar’s state-owned holding company.
A spokesman for Traveloka declined to comment on whether QIA had joined the deal or on Traveloka’s valuation. QIA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.