Travel in Asia has been experiencing a consistent upsurge over the last decade, both in inbound and outbound travel. Motivations and demographics are changing significantly throughout the continent, case in point being the fact that the leisure travel market in the region now has an annual growth rate of 14%. In 2019, Asia handled more than 25% of global tourist arrivals, with the Southeast Asian tourism industry growing by about 10% from the previous year. Asian travelers have been spending hundreds of billions of dollars booking travel online, with experts projecting that the travel industry will account for up to 38% or the region’s revenue by 2025.
However, most Asian tourist destinations have been hit hard by coronavirus fears from late 2019 when the COVID-19 outbreak was reported in China. The number of international tourists going to the continent has dropped sharply in 2020 according to reports by the World Tourism Organization, and that has precipitated losses of $30bn-50bn in international tourism receipts. And because most western countries have banned trips to and from Asia, it is possible that the previous forecast of a substantial tourism growth might not materialize if coronavirus isn’t contained by June 2020.
But in the midst of all that, what are the key travel trends that are/will be defining Asia in 2020 and the decade ahead? From the onset, it is important to note that most Asian travelers are changing their travel preferences as the region’s economy grows. Here are 6 more travel trends you should know of if you are planning to tour Asia in 2020:
Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry has evolved more than any other country in the world over the last 2 years. The Kingdom has invested a lot in infrastructure as a way of providing visitors from the west with more sightseeing options. Private investors are also playing a key role in creating world-class entertainment options for tourists. The conservative laws that previously made Saudi Arabia a no-go zone are now a little bit relaxed and it is now easier to apply for a Saudi Arabia visa. All these efforts are geared towards opening up Saudi borders to international tourists. It is true to say that the kingdom is now a notable Asian tourist destination.
Mid-age and senior travelers make up more than half of Asia’s inbound tourism. Data released by Hotels.com in 2019 showed that Asian outbound tourists aged between 50-60 years spend, on average, USD 300 per day when touring overseas destinations, which is about USD 100 more than what younger travelers spend. This trend can be attributed to the fact that most mid-aged Asians are free from mortgages and credit card debt, a luxury that millennials do not enjoy.
All Asian destinations have Muslim-friendly amenities, culture, and hospitality services. The food and accommodation standards in Asia are Shariah-compliant. That is why Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Malaysia receive the highest numbers of Muslim tourists in the world.
There are many emerging tourist destinations in Asia and the local tourists love this trend. Vietnam, Singapore, and India are leading in terms of creating off-the-beaten-path destinations. Trivandrum in India is one emerging destination that Asian travelers are crushing on. The cultural hub has registered over 60% in year-on-year growth in bookings. Kunming (Yunnan), on the other hand, had a 42% year-on-year growth in bookings by the end of 2019. Once the COVID-19 threat is over, these off-the-beaten-path destinations will be in line to overtake globally acclaimed travel destinations.
The concept of veganism is finally accepted by most Asians and has now found its way into the travel industry. There are tons of vegan-friendly hotels and local vegan diets in the streets. This comes at a time when the world is gravitating towards green credentials in all aspects of life.
More and more Asian travelers are indulging in maximized luxury and comfort. Premium economy flights in the region increased by 50% in 2019 compared to 2018, while business class bookings increased by almost 20%. This trend is projected to continue into 2020 and beyond.
The travel patterns among Asian travelers are evolving, and so are most tourism laws and regulations in most parts of the continent. We can expect more new tourism trends to become the norm in 2020 and beyond.
Lirika Hart is a young ambitious girl who has been researching self-development for the past three years and is now focusing on her career. Her mission is to inspire others to live their dreams and be the person to whom they say; "Because of you, I never gave up."
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