ASX shares, with only the rarest of exceptions, were hammered during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Few ASX investors will forget the 33% fall in the All Ordinaries Index (ASX: XAO) from late February through to late March 2020.
Since then, many ASX shares have rocketed back, propelling the All Ords back above pre-COVID levels.
But with international borders having remained all but shuttered, ASX tourism shares have broadly lagged behind that recovery.
But that all may be changing.
Yesterday the government reported that Australia's international borders will reopen to all fully vaccinated travellers commencing on 21 February.
Well positioned to finally benefit
Commenting on the lifting of border restrictions and the impact on ASX shares in the tourism sectors, Alex Shevelev, senior analyst at Forager Funds Management, said:
This move continues the reopening of Australian borders to the world. Tourism operators, large and small, will now have more confidence to begin preparing for international arrivals. While the recovery will be gradual, the industry will be hoping that the initial trickle of tourists will be followed by a torrent of arrivals.
Shevelev pointed to cost cutting measures undertaken by many of the companies in the sector as potentially boosting their profit margins.
"Importantly, many operators have lowered their cost bases and will be more profitable when arrivals approach pre-COVID levels," he said.
So which ASX shares are looking set to benefit?
According to Shevelev:
Companies like skydive and Great Barrier Reef tour operator Experience Co Ltd (ASX: EXP) … and Apollo Tourism & Leisure Ltd (ASX: ATL) have struggled through the COVID travel decimation for 2 years while working to improve their businesses. When tourists return, they will be well positioned to finally benefit.
How have these 2 ASX shares been performing?
The Apollo Tourism share price is up 47% over the past 12 months, but has fallen 17% so far in the new year.
Experience shares have gained 89% over the last 12 months and are flat so far in 2022.
As international tourists return to Australia, both ASX shares, as Shevelev says, look well positioned.