BANGKOK, 19 May 2023: Arival, the leading authority for the tours and activities sector, has released six key trends shaping the future of travel experiences in APAC.
The findings from its recent The Outlook for Experiences 2019-2025 research are released ahead of the annual Arival Activate event, which will take place in Bangkok on 12 to 14 June.
Arival CEO and co-founder Douglas Quinby said: “With many countries beginning to open travel after the pandemic, the Asia Pacific (APAC) region is seeing a surge of renewed interest in travel and tourism. APAC travellers are spending more, travelling further and for longer.”
Intra-regional travel is first, but long-haul travel to Europe is not far behind.
Quinby notes the following six essential experiences trends that are likely to shape the travel experience sector’s recovery – and that every creator and seller of tours, activities and attractions should be watching:
- A very uneven recovery
There are still considerable variations in the pace of recovery throughout APAC. In some markets, travellers are making a strong comeback – especially from Southeast Asia, Korea and Australia – while some source markets, such as China and Japan, are slower to return.
- Intra-regional travel is first, but long-haul and Europe are not far behind
Asia’s travellers have started to travel regionally, but long-haul destinations will likely not be far behind. Operators and resellers are reporting increased demand for Europe in particular.
- The return of the outbound Chinese traveller remains a wild card
China has been a crucial engine of travel growth before the pandemic. While domestic travel has primarily recovered, international outbound travel has slowly returned. Operators in the region should focus first on other source markets in the region – and be prepared for China’s return in the second half of 2023.
Asia-based DidaTravel’s chief strategy officer Eric Zhuang recently commented on this shift in preference at the Arival 360 event in Berlin. “The supply chain needs to be reformed, and also, many clients have changed consumer behaviours and booking patterns. Most people will still go to the top destinations of pre-Covid times, but the things they want to do will be quite different.”
- Younger travellers – and their booking habits – will define the rebound
Gen-Z and younger Millennials are driving the recovery across Asia, and their behaviour is already reshaping the industry. This large, experience-hungry cohort of the traveller population prioritises experiences over stuff. They are putting experiences first and are willing to pay for them. Operators must be ready for this. This means more small-group, immersive experiences that get travellers off the beaten path with unique, memorable interactions. And it has to be all mobile bookable, with plenty of Instagram- and TikTok-worthy moments.
- Mobile booking and online marketplaces will more than triple in market share by 2025
With younger travellers leading the rebound, operators must be ready for the mobile wave. “We have seen a growth of 120% above the pre-pandemic level,” said Klook ChiefCief Commercial Officer Wilfred Fan when speaking at Arival 360 Berlin in March 2023. “That’s a company record, and that trend continues.”
- Small group and independent travel will not only lead travel’s return but re-define its future in Asia
Younger travellers are seeking more independent and adventurous travel and experiences. This means more small group tours, independent tours, outdoor adventure activities and other unique experiences that travellers can cherish with family and friends.