This time last year, ILTM caught up with the ever-enlightening Dr Parag Khanna, Managing Partner of FutureMap, seasoned ILTM speaker and authority on globalization, about the impact of COVID-19 on APAC destinations. One year on, as we sat down again, the lucrative countries from the region are showing signs of emerging from hibernation. Here’s what Parag is witnessing in 2021 and beyond…
Asia represents the largest share of domestic and international travellers. The region will also be the first to reopen borders and deploy new technologies.
The coming years will witness trends in travel reinforce those in trade: Regionalization will outpace globalization. Before the pandemic, the number of outbound Asian travellers had doubled over the previous decade—but it had tripled within Asia itself. Post-pandemic, we can expect more and more Asian travellers to remain domestic or within the region. This has already been a strong contributing factor to China’s domestic consumption rebound, and as wealthy Chinese travellers venture abroad again, Asian nations are working hardest to woo them.
Many Asia-based travellers will play it safe and head to well-governed “islands of immunity” whether Japan or Australia, Taiwan or Singapore, where they know they can enjoy the cultural, culinary, or natural offerings. These countries have moved past lockdowns, and even elevated restrictions don’t dampen freedom of mobility. They also have the upscale facilities from resorts to service apartments to enable comfortable long-stays for those who have devised new schedules around dividing time across multiple locations. In essence, such travellers are looking for “home-tels” from which to conduct remote work while building new relationships.
Asian nations will also step up cooperation around harmonizing and digitizing new standards for cross-border mobility, such as immunity passports and blockchain based health certifications. Prior to the pandemic, visa restrictions had eased dramatically and Asian passports such as Japan, South Korea, and Singapore had become three of the five “most powerful” passports in the world. Asians’ embrace of technology will allow them to quickly rebuild cross-border trust into their immigration policies.
Such policies are also underway in Europe, emanating from both the UK as well as the Schengen area. This could be a positive sign for restoring travel between Europe and Asia, especially as Europeans seek tropical holidays and Asians look to beat the heat. Currently, however, this thicket of regional and industry efforts has yet to be reconciled.
Asia will also reinforce the global trend towards longer stays and multi-generational family travel, creating novel opportunities for hospitality brands. This includes the hybridization of business and leisure travel that emphasizes maintaining professional connectivity and elevating consciousness around wellness and sustainability. Youth, in particular, have driven the trend away from material consumption towards authentic experiences, with an emphasis on environmental and cultural conservation. As Asian nations step up vaccinations, the winter season of 2021/22 presents many opportunities for families to criss-cross Asia to immerse in mega-events such as the Dubai World Expo.
It’s never been so clear that capturing the APAC market is an essential element of our industry’s global road to recovery. If you would like to join ILTM Asia Pacific Virtual to do just that, please enquire here.