These are the top 10 emerging trends impacting Asian travel and tourism

Ancient palace in Jaipur, India. Source: Shutterstock

AS we near the end of another year, it pays to look back on what has materialized over the last 12 months, as well look ahead to what we can expect in the next.

For the tourism industry, 2017 has been a record year, showing once again that travel can be a hugely powerful force in the developing global economy. According to the UN World Tourism Barometer, destinations worldwide welcomed 901 million international tourist arrivals between January and August 2017 – 56 million more than in the same period of 2016.

This significant 7 percent increase is well above the growth of previous years, making 2017 the eighth consecutive year of continued solid growth for international tourism.

Asia and the Pacific continues to be a juggernaut behind this, seeing a robust growth of 6.5 percent every year between 2005 and 2016. And it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

As Gary Bowerman, Director of Check-in Asia, an Asia based travel research marketing company,  told Travel Wire Asia, “travel in Asia is better facilitated than ever before.”

“With strong growth in Asia in three sectors – intra-regional, domestic and outbound – the global travel industry is pivoting towards Asia,” he said.

Evolution in what Asian travelers want out of their travel experiences is driving a surge of marketing from travel providers eager to get a slice of this ever-growing pie. And with a higher disposable income and a desire to travel wider than ever before, these travelers pose a lucrative prospect for an industry looking to woo them.

In such a fast-evolving market it is useful for both travelers and travel providers alike to keep up-to-date with emerging trends. To make life easy for you, Check-in Asia has put together the 10 Key Trends in Asian Travel & Tourism report, released today, so you know what to watch out for when planning your next adventure.

The dominance of China

The Great Wall, China. Source: Shauntmax

The combination of Chinese tech and Chinese travelers is proving to be a driving force in shaping the industry. With tech leaders, like Alipay, WeChat and Mobike, fast becoming household names across the world, and choosing to partner with big industry names, they are fast changing the way people travel.

Add to that the anticipated 145 million outbound travelers and 4.8 billion domestic trips in 2017, and the Chinese market is becoming a honeypot for many tourism providers who are increasingly adapting their approach to better accommodate the demands of Chinese vacationers.

Emerging India

India himalayas mountains

Kinnaur, Northern India. Source: Yongyut Kumsri/Shutterstock

While China might be a force to be reckoned with, don’t discount the planet’s second fastest growing outbound market – India.

With an estimated 50 million per year expected to travel overseas by 2020, the Indian travel market is holding untapped potential.

As Check-in Asia points out, Indian holidaymakers like to spend. Low cost carriers (LCC) are reaping the rewards of a booming domestic travel sector, while outbound trips are finding increase demand for niche trips, such as destination weddings and extended family travel.

The rise of the staycation

It’s not just India and China that are seeking holiday-escapism a little closer to home. Vacations within one’s home country is on the up, as LCCs make escaping the city for a long weekend increasingly accessible.

Governments and travel providers are also getting in on the act. South Korea developed a campaign to encourage locals to spend more time (and money) exploring their own country, while Airbnb and All Nippon Airways have partnered up to promote domestic travel in Japan.

There’s no such thing as a “traditional” destination anymore

People are wanting – and getting – more diversity in their choice of destination. With surging demand for travel, and travellers with more disposal income and more world-awareness than ever before, new players are starting to enter the market, feeling the irresistible draw of the influential Asian markets.

Where once the “traditional” destinations of Paris, London and Sydney would be on everyone’s list, new players, such as Albania, Bangladesh and Guam, are starting to have their voices heard as destinations to watch.

Up-and-coming Africa

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Tourism providers in Africa have also switched on to the juggernaut that is the Asian travel market. With improved travel infrastructure and increased connectivity, the African continent is the most accessible it has ever been for Asian travelers, and African destination marketers are capitalizing on this.

At the recent ITB Asia – the region’s leading travel trade show, held in Singapore in October 2017 – Africa was well-represented with popular presentations showcasing the desert pyramids of Sudan, wildlife migrations in Kenya and Tanzania, the ‘Smoke that Thunders’ of Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls and helicopter tours over Cape Point in South Africa.

New generation of Muslim travelers

“Millennial values are increasingly shifting away from the acquisition of goods toward a focus on experiences such as travel,” said MasterCard vice-president Aisha Islam. And Muslim millennial travelers are no exception.

In their recent Muslim Millennial Travel (MMT) Report 2017, MasterCard estimated that MMTs will generate US$100 billion in spending by 2025.

As a whole new generation of Muslim travellers search for travel that is “more than just a vacation,” the mindset of travel marketers is evolving to accommodate this burgeoning demographic.

Changing nature of niches

The time of travel agents and itineraries is slowly dying out as travelers take planning and booking into their own hands, leaving them free to cobble together the ideal getaway to suit them and their budget.

Tech has helped this movement a huge amount with ride-sharing and home-stays ubiquitous. Travel providers are also trying to appeal to the better-connected travelers with Instagram-worthy selling points. Unique travel experiences with an extra pazazz are also on the up with a rise in sporting adventures and novelty cruise travel.

Tech is changing the way we travel

Everyone’s got a smartphone these days, and the ever-present companion in your pocket is not only changing the way we book our travel, but is shaping the kind of travel information we’re exposed to.

Our constant online activity is feeding a new data-driven approach to travel that is shaping tourism services and moving us towards a more virtual future.

Advantageous alliances

Brands outside of the travel industry are seeing the advantage of partnering with travel providers as a way of engaging the significant Asian customer market base.

Expect to see more retail, financial and data services companies partnering up with airlines and hotel brands to expand consumer reach and beat out competitors.

Overtourism

Venice, Italy, saw protests in August due to overcrowding and overtourism. Source: Shutterstock

Overtourism is a word that has dominated the 2017 market and made an unwelcome re-occurrence throughout busy periods.

The UNWTO made 2017 the year of sustainable tourism, and as protests over overcrowding littered the summer months in Europe, the subject seems particularly relevant.

Dispersing visitors across a broader landscape is becoming essential. “Growth is not the enemy,” Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the UNWTO, has said. “We need to diversify visitors’ activities, reduce seasonality and raise awareness of less busy destinations.”