During this year’s Click event, Laura Houldsworth, Managing Director of Asia Pacific (APAC) at Booking.com took to the stage to talk about today’s travellers and how, on the long road of recovery from COVID-19, their behaviour and the market has shifted.
With a focus on the APAC region, we’ll cover the top insights that have come from Houldsworth’s predictions earlier in the year and compare these findings against our recent Travel Confidence Index 2023.
Traveller confidence is high across APAC
As Houldsworth told us at Click. 2023: in March 2022, only 30% of APAC was open for business. Things have since improved and now it’s a completely different story. Within the session, Houldsworth explained how the region is following a positive trend, just a little bit behind others. Where Booking.com had a strong year in 2022 with 900 million room nights, she anticipated APAC to bounce back this year. Further research also indicates that the total market will reach $490 billion in 2025.
This prediction is supported by our results from the Traveller Confidence Index 2023 survey*, where Hong Kong, India and China were the top three countries and territories who felt confident about outbound tourism. And in broader strokes, 73% of APAC travellers maintain unwavering optimism for their future travel plans in the next 12 months.
Tip: Think about using Country Rates. By targeting travellers from specific regions, you can increase your bookings for your property.
The return of Chinese travellers holds a great deal of promise
In 2019, outbound Chinese travellers spent a whopping $255 billion overseas. Totalling 166 million trips outside of mainland China, it was obviously a huge loss when COVID-19 restrictions put a stop to this.
Since China reopened in January, the outlook for APAC travel has gone from positive predictions, to an exciting reality. As Houldsworth shared in March: “Now with China opening, we really have a limitless opportunity to capture that demand of Chinese travellers going back out into the world, but also to welcome travellers from around the world back into the region.”
Looking at the figures since, her predictions were right on track – with one third of Chinese travellers changing their plans from domestic to international travel as soon as the travel restrictions were lifted.
For 2023, we’re anticipating a respectable 110 million trips and expect to see a full recovery by 2024. At the top of the Chinese travellers’ list is Thailand, followed by many European destinations, the USA, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia.
Tip: Although COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, travellers may still be cautious. Highlight your health and safety measures to reassure your guests.
The APAC traveller profile has changed
We’ve seen various shifts in the habits of our APAC travellers over the course of the last few years. Across the region, travellers have an increasing awareness and sense of urgency when it comes to making mindful choices that align with their environmental values. They’re passionate about balancing cost with sustainability.
With a focus on Chinese travellers, there’s been a change in preference from group tours to solo trips and their profile is also skewing younger. Excitingly, for both Chinese and Indian travellers, many are choosing to extend the length of their stays to more than seven nights.
Tip: Consider setting up a weekly rate plan, where you can offer a discount based on a minimum length of stay for 7+ nights.
Indian travellers have kept the APAC market going
While China was out of action, India became top of mind. With a similar population size, the growth has been impressive – already reaching significantly larger numbers for outbound travel than in 2019. This trajectory is set to continue with domestic travel also remaining strong.
Our research shows that Indian travellers are planning to visit Europe, with the UK and France both making it into their top five search destinations. Additionally, they’re showing a clear desire to go somewhere “different” – so this should remain a focus when targeting this thriving market.
Tip: Show potential guests what makes your property unique by adding plenty of great photos.
In summary, it’s a very exciting time for the APAC travel market. In Houldsworth’s words, “The Asia-Pacific travel landscape – a region that has emerged as a powerhouse in the travel sector – is captivating millions of travellers with its diverse cultures, breathtaking landscapes and vibrant economies.”
*This research was commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adult travellers from 11 countries and territories across APAC through an online survey between 29 March 2023 and 7 April 2023. A total of 8,800 respondents were polled.
- Despite China only reopening for travel back in January, the APAC region came out of recovery and into growth in Q4 of 2022 when we saw a big spike thanks to demand from North Asia
- Our Traveller Confidence Index survey revealed that Hong Kong, India and China were the top three countries and territories with travellers ready to get back out there and explore the world
- In China’s absence, Indian travellers stole the limelight with higher outbound numbers and longer trips compared with 2019
- In comparison to 2019 figures where Chinese travellers made 166 million trips outside of mainland China, we expect to see 110 million trips this year – demonstrating a healthy rate of recovery