Six key trends shaping travel experiences in Asia-Pacific

Arival unveils key trends in travel and activities ahead of the Arival Activate conference in Bangkok in June

(Source: Arival)

Arival, the leading authority for the tours and activities industry, has published six key trends that are shaping the future of travel experiences in APAC. The findings, from their recent research The Outlook for Experiences 2019-2025 , will be published ahead of the annual Arival Activate event, taking place in Bangkok from June 12-14.

Douglas Quinby, CEO and Co-Founder of Arival, said: "Many countries are reopening to tourism after the pandemic, so the Asia Pacific (APAC) region is seeing a wave of renewed interest in travel and tourism. APAC travelers spend more, travel further and for longer."

Douglas points out the following major trends that are likely to drive the recovery of the experience industry and that both creators and sellers of trips, activities and attractions should be aware of:

A very uneven recovery: There continue to be large differences in the pace of recovery across APAC. In some markets, travelers are making a strong comeback – notably from Southeast Asia, Korea and Australia – while some source markets, such as China and Japan, are taking longer to recover. 

Intra-regional travel leads first, but long-haul and Europe not far behind: Asian travelers have begun to travel by region, but long-haul destinations are likely not far behind. Operators and resellers report increased demand in Europe in particular.

The return of the Chinese outbound traveler remains a wild card: China has been a crucial driver of travel growth before the pandemic. While domestic travel has largely recovered, international travel abroad has been slow to come back. Operators in the region should first focus on other source markets in the region, and be prepared for the return of China in the second half of 2023. 

Eric Zhuang, Director of Strategy at Asia-based DidaTravel, recently commented on this change in preferences at the Arival 360 event in Berlin: “The supply chain needs to be reformed, and also many customers have the change in consumer behaviors. and in reserve patterns. Most people will still go to the top destinations from the pre-Covid era, but the things they want to do will be very different.”

Younger travelers – and their booking habits – will define the uptick: Gen Z and millennials are driving the recovery in Asia, and their behavior is already transforming the industry. This large cohort of experience-hungry travelers prioritizes experiences over things. They prioritize experiences and are willing to pay for them. Operators must be prepared. This means more small-group, immersive experiences that take travelers off the beaten path with unique and memorable interactions. And everything has to be able to be reserved from the mobile, and be perpetuated on Instagram and TikTok.

Mobile bookings and online marketplaces will more than triple their market share by 2025: With younger travelers leading the rebound, operators need to be ready for the mobile wave. "We have seen growth of 120% above the pre-pandemic level," said Klook Chief Commercial Officer Wilfred Fan at the last Arival 360 Berlin in March 2023. "It's a company record, and that trend continues."

Small group and independent travel will not only lead the return of travel, but will redefine its future in Asia: Younger travelers are seeking more independent and adventurous travel and experiences. This means more small group travel, independent travel, outdoor adventure activities, and other unique experiences travelers can enjoy with family and friends.

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