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 travelers and how their behavior and the market have shifted on the long road of recovery from Covid-19.
With a focus on the APAC region, we’ll cover the top insights that came from Houldsworth’s predictions earlier in the year and compare these findings against our recent Travel Confidence Index 2023.
Traveler confidence is high across APAC
As Houldsworth told us at Click. 2023, only 30% of APAC was open for business in March 2022. Things have since improved, and now it’s a completely different story. During the session, Houldsworth explained how the region is following a positive trend, just a little bit behind others. While 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 Traveler Confidence Index 2023 survey*, where Hong Kong, India, and China were the top three countries that felt confident about outbound tourism. More broadly, 73% of APAC travelers maintain unwavering optimism for their travel plans in the next 12 months.
Tip: Think about using Country Rates. By targeting travelers from specific regions, you can increase bookings for your property.
The return of Chinese travelers holds a great deal of promise
In 2019, outbound Chinese travelers spent a whopping $255 billion overseas. Totaling 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 travelers going back out into the world – but also to welcome travelers from around the world back into the region.”
Looking at the figures, her predictions were right on track, with one third of Chinese travelers changing their plans from domestic to international travel as soon as the restrictions were lifted.
For 2023, we anticipate a considerable 110 million trips and expect to see a full recovery by 2024. At the top of Chinese travelers’ list is Thailand, followed by many European destinations, the US, Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia.
Tip: Although Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, travelers can still be cautious. Highlight your health and safety measures to reassure guests.
The APAC traveler profile has changed
We’ve seen various shifts in the habits of our APAC travelers over the course of the last few years. Across the region, travelers have an increasing awareness and sense of urgency when it comes to making choices that align with their environmental values. They’re passionate about balancing cost with sustainability.
With a focus on Chinese travelers, there’s been a change in preference from group tours to solo trips – and their profile is also skewing younger. For both Chinese and Indian travelers, many are choosing to extend 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 travelers have kept the APAC market going
While China was out of action, India rose to the top. Similar in population size, its 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 travelers are planning to visit Europe, with the UK and France in their top five search destinations. They also show 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 travelers with its diverse cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant economies.”
*This research was commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adult travelers from 11 countries and territories across APAC through an online survey between March 29, 2023 and April 7, 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 Traveler Confidence Index survey revealed that Hong Kong, India, and China were the top three countries and territories with travelers ready to get back out there and explore the world
- In China’s absence, Indian travelers were in the spotlight, with higher outbound numbers and longer trips compared to 2019
- In comparison to 2019, when Chinese travelers made 166 million trips outside of mainland China, we expect to see 110 million trips this year, demonstrating a healthy recovery rate