ForwardKeys, the leading travel intelligence company globally, has taken part this week in the UNWTO and PATA-organised Tourism Forum in Guilin, China. ForwardKeys’ latest air ticketing data shows that in the first three quarters of this year, Asia Pacific destinations show a travel recovery over 50% of their pre-pandemic international arrival volumes (45% down on 2019) while on-the-book tickets for arrivals during the fourth quarter are showing a marked improvement, currently tracking just 25% below the same moment in 2019.

The Asia Pacific region is recovering the fastest but, the Middle East is already on track to exceed 2019 levels during the fourth quarter, and the Americas are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels.

It’s worth noting that the total international outbound travel has been following a similar trend. The Americas are leading the way in terms of outbound travel recovery thanks to the strength of the US dollar and a significant increase in flight capacity.

Q4 Travel Trends across the Asia-Pacific

South Asia is showing a strong recovery with the number of visitors to India expected to surpass 2019 levels by 6%. This is due to the ambitious fleet renewal and expansion programs by Air India and IndiGo, which have placed orders for 470 new aircraft, including fuel-efficient models. As a result, India is becoming an increasingly influential player in the travel industry.

In Oceania, Fiji is making notable progress towards recovery, despite accounting for only 8% of the total arrivals in the region. However, flight availability and staffing remain key challenges for inbound tourism. The pandemic has significantly impacted the local tourism industry, resulting in a loss of workers. Many agencies have shifted their focus to the domestic market, which is seen as a safer and more stable option. Domestic travel in Australia has experienced 17% growth, while New Zealand is set to experience a 4% increase in Q4.

Southeast Asia faces a 29% gap compared to 2019 numbers. The region has been impacted by several factors, including a slow rebound in flight volumes, increased travel costs, and safety-related concerns. Negative news stories, such as the shooting incident in Bangkok and telecommunication fraud in Myanmar, have also affected the appeal of some key destinations.

Meanwhile, Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea are showing promising signs of recovery in Northeast Asia. Japan and South Korea’s resurgence is primarily due to travel between these two nations and arrivals from long-haul markets like North America and Western Europe. Hong Kong is drawing in a larger number of tourists from within Asia, especially from SEAS.

The Power of Events on Tourism

The Asian Games have had a significant impact on travel to Hangzhou in China. During the week leading up to the Games, from September 18th to October 8th, flight ticket sales increased by an impressive 47% when compared to 2019 levels.

Moreover, the Asian Games are expected to bring long-term benefits to Hangzhou. Tourist interest has been sustained even after the Games have ended, with flight bookings for Christmas already 11% higher than in 2019.

The music industry has made a strong comeback in the post-pandemic economy, proving to be a major driver of economic growth, and bringing along various benefits that come with live concerts. In 2023, we witness a significant trend in the concert industry as more international artists prefer specific Southeast Asian countries for their tours, with Singapore standing out as a prominent destination.

Looking ahead to 2024, during Coldplay’s concert period, there is an astonishing 241% increase in travel from neighbouring Southeast Asian countries to Singapore, which is way higher than the overall 19% increase seen in January. Furthermore, for Taylor Swift’s concert in March, the latest data shows a whopping 380% increase in travel, compared to the overall Q1 outlook of 37%. These travellers are mainly individuals or couples, with an average length of stay of 3 days. To cater to the demand, Klook Singapore has launched ‘Experience Packages’, which include two tickets to Taylor Swift’s concert and a night’s stay at one of the over 40 hotels available to choose from.

Music tourism is becoming increasingly popular, with fans travelling across borders to attend concerts and festivals. Singapore is a prime example of a destination that has benefited from hosting such events, thanks to its advanced infrastructure, regional connectivity, stable governance, and strong security measures. As a result, the country has seen a boost in tourist arrivals. Something other Asian destinations should consider in their tourism strategy for 2024 and beyond.

ForwardKeys’ Vice President of Insights, Olivier Ponti, recently presented at the UNWTO/PATA Tourism Forum, discussing the rate of the travel recovery in the Asia-Pacific. You can download the full presentation by clicking below.

Download the Presentation

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2023-10-27T11:06:15+02:0026/10/2023|All, DMO, Events|
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