TFWA Asia Pacific Hainan Edition
Vaccination programmes and travel bubbles are bringing international travel closer, we hope. But what will our next overseas trip be like? Tripadvisor’s Asia Pacific Group Head of Destination Marketing Sarah Mathews, a workshop speaker at the upcoming TFWA Asia Pacific Hainan Special Edition (21-24 June online), shares her thoughts.
Sarah Mathews
Sarah Mathews

TFWA: The rebound in Chinese domestic tourism points to strong pent-up demand for travel. Is that ‘Wanderlust’ shared by other nationalities in Asia Pacific?

Sarah Mathews: With the pandemic wreaking havoc on travel plans in 2020, it’s no surprise that nearly two-thirds (65%) of leisure travellers surveyed by Tripadvisor say they didn’t travel internationally at all last year. We anticipate that will reverse in 2021. 46% of surveyed respondents in Australia and 61% in Singapore say they’re planning to travel internationally this year. Globally, we’re already seeing more hotel clicks on Tripadvisor for the second half of the year than the first. Most trips from May onwards are planned to international rather than domestic destinations, which is a flip from trips planned between January to April this year. This is an early signal that travellers feel increasingly confident they’ll be able to travel abroad in 2021, especially later in the year.

TFWA: When international flights return, will most Asia Pacific travellers choose to stay within the region or might they venture further afield?

SM: It really depends on the travel bubbles available and which markets recover first. An interesting insight we’ve found is that, having sacrificed vacation time in 2020, travellers want to make this year count and that means upgrading their travel plans by spending more on their next trip, whether through booking more luxurious accommodation or travel destinations. A recent Tripadvisor survey found that around one in ten (11%) global travellers plan to go luxe on accommodation in 2021. In fact, of the six nations surveyed, travellers from Singapore and the U.S. are the most likely to have already booked a luxury hotel stay in 2021 - almost one in five have already done so (19% and 18% respectively), compared to a global average of one in seven (14%).

TFWA: How will traveller priorities change in the post-pandemic world?

SM: Travel will definitely look different. Safety and hygiene will remain big priorities for travellers, and vaccinations are a potential game-changer for traveller confidence. Tools like Tripadvisor’s TravelSafe feature can play an important role in helping hospitality businesses showcase the steps they’ve taken - and are taking - to protect their customers and guests.

TFWA: To what extent will the acceleration in online driven by the pandemic benefit travel and tourism in Asia Pacific?

SM: With so many people stuck at home for most of 2020, unable to take the vacations they’d hoped for or planned, that first big leisure trip of 2021 is going to carry extra significance. Many will want to make their next vacation special, and that’s evident in how much time travellers are spending online, researching and planning every aspect of the trip. Three-quarters (74%) of travellers we surveyed say they’ll spend longer choosing a destination this year; two-thirds (66%) will spend more time reading reviews, 72% will spend more time selecting their accommodation, and 70% will spend more time finding things to do. Respondents in Singapore are the keenest trip planners - eight out of ten (80%) consumers surveyed there say they’ll spend more time choosing their next destination because of the pandemic.