Asia Pacific (APAC) has been a huge engine of tourism growth over the past decade and is now finally reopening. But where are APAC travelers going, and what are they looking for?
Industry leaders from the region met at Arival 360 | Berlin 2023 to discuss the outlook for the region, what the returning travelers want, and what the returning travelers want. The panel, moderated by yours truly, included Ola Strand Andersen, CFO & Director of BeMyGuest, David Anderson, Group CEO of Big Red Group and Wilfred Fan, CCO of Klook.
The full recording of the panel is available on-demand for Insider Pro Access members here. Here are some highlights from the discussion.
APAC travelers are coming back
While there are still huge variations throughout the Asia Pacific (APAC) region in terms of recovery, and flight capacity and prices continue to limit travel’s ability to rebound, at a high level travelers are coming back strong, especially travelers from Southeast Asia, Korea, Japan and Australia.
“As the largest marketplace in Australia I’m devastated to report that Australians are leaving in droves,” jokes Anderson. “Australians are definitely on the way back.”
“We have seen a growth of 120% above the pre-pandemic level” shares Fan of Klook’s growth, comparing Q4 2022 to Q4 2019. “That’s a company record and that trend continues… so it’s really strong.”
However, the recovery from China in particular has been slower than expected, which Fan explains is due in part to policies in China that limit travel to approved destinations, as well as a long queue for issuing new passports to Chinese travelers.
Travelers are spending more, traveling longer, and going further
The work-cation has come to Asia. BeMyGuest’s Andersen explains that, along with a movement towards smaller groups and family-oriented travel, a change in work life balance during the pandemic has made it possible for travelers from certain countries with typically rigid work policies to spend more time away.
“If you look at the long haul destinations like Europe,” explains Andersen, “instead of going for one week and trying to squeeze in anything you can go for two to three weeks, combine work and play, experience the destination more which in turn means you will do more things.”
Australians as well are spending more time and money to get away… and get outdoors, according to Big Red Group’s Anderson. “The average Australian now spends 23 days on long-haul trips,” he shares, “they’re seeking more watersports, diving, snorkeling, climbing, walking — it’s back to nature for Aussies.”
Klook, whose customer base is primarily younger travelers (20-45 years old), is also noticing travelers wanting to travel more independently. “They are more adventurous,” observes Fan, “the amount of car rentals and train and bus tickets has gone up a lot… people want to explore by themselves… deeper into the country.”
Europe’s popularity is rising for APAC travelers
“It’s on,” says David Anderson of Australian travelers. Travel spending for outbound trips is at an all-time high for Australians, he shares, and most of them are going to Europe: “The Mediterranean: Greece, Italy, Spain are the main targets for Australian outbound right now… Aussies will be back in Europe to pre-pandemic levels this year.”
Interest in travel to Europe is on the rise in other parts of Asia as well. For Korea in particular, notes Ola Andersen, “pre-Covid intra-Asia travel was about 70% of the travel, now actually Europe is the top, followed by Japan, Vietnam and Thailand.” The ability to spend longer time in a location, to blend vacation and work, is likely a contributing factor, he observes.
Chinese travelers are returning more slowly, Fan explains, with travel currently at 60% of pre-Covid levels to approved destinations such as Thailand and Singapore. However, Fan and Anderson both expect China to have the biggest impact on APAC’s recovery going forward.
Learn more about the outlook for APAC
For more on the outlook for APAC from Arival 360 | Berlin 2023, watch the full recording of The Outlook for Asia and explore the other sessions available on demand with an Insider Pro Access membership.
Join us in Bangkok in June 2023 with industry leaders in the tours, activities and attractions sector for a deep dive into Asia’s travel trends, where together we’ll learn more about the future of experiences in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, the nuances of each country and their travelers — and how you can position your business for success.
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