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PATA - logoIn the first half of 2024, the Asia Pacific tourism sector has seen a complex and uneven recovery from the pandemic. A notable transformation is underway, driven by shifts in consumer preferences, technological advancements, and strategic responses to ongoing challenges. As the region navigates this new landscape, experts emphasize the importance of visa easing, enhanced air capacity, and a commitment to digital innovation.

Emerging Trends and Consumer Preferences

At the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA) “Navigating the Path to Tourism Recovery” webinar on June 6, industry leaders highlighted the evolving trends reshaping the tourism landscape. The post-pandemic era has ushered in new priorities for travellers, including value for money, seamless booking experiences, and travel that aligns with personal values.

Caroline Bremner, Senior Head of Travel Research at Euromonitor International, underscored the importance of destinations offering safety, relaxation, and high-quality experiences. She noted that younger travellers, particularly Gen Z, prioritize personalized and authentic local experiences, often valuing these over cost considerations. In contrast, older travellers, such as baby boomers, continue to seek value-oriented travel options.

Challenges with Chinese Outbound Tourism

Despite positive trends, Asia Pacific tourism faces significant challenges, particularly with the lag in Chinese outbound tourism. Destinations heavily reliant on Chinese tourists, such as Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Macau, may not fully recover until 2026. This delay is attributed to Chinese travellers opting for domestic travel over international destinations.

Countries like India and Thailand, however, have shown remarkable resilience. These destinations have nearly or fully recovered to their pre-pandemic tourism levels by attracting tourists from Australia, Europe, and the USA. Singapore has even surpassed its 2019 tourism arrival figures.

China’s Domestic Tourism Dynamics

China itself faces hurdles in attracting international tourists. Dr Anyu Liu from Hong Kong Polytechnic University revealed that international tourist arrivals in China are currently at 80% of 2019 levels. This figure is projected to rise to 96% by 2026. Inflation, labor shortages, and regional conflicts contribute to this slow recovery.

Strategic Improvements for Enhanced Tourism

Noor Ahmad Hamid, CEO of PATA, outlined several strategic measures to bolster regional tourism. Enhancing air capacity, improving regional land-based connectivity, and easing visa restrictions are crucial. Additionally, better training and retention of skilled personnel are essential to support the industry’s growth.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Travel

Looking ahead, artificial intelligence (AI) is set to transform the travel industry. However, experts caution that AI must be used responsibly to avoid perpetuating bias and misinformation. Caroline Bremner emphasized the need for honest and up-to-date destination information as AI bots continuously scrape the internet for data.

AI is already making an impact by suggesting travel itineraries and training hospitality staff. Dr. Liu humorously noted that while AI tools like ChatGPT are improving, human tourism forecasters remain indispensable.

Future Forecasts and Reports

PATA will release its mid-year tourism forecast reports on June 25, covering 39 Asia Pacific destinations. These reports, available on PATA.org, will provide detailed insights into the region’s tourism outlook for 2024-2026.

As the Asia Pacific tourism sector adapts to new realities, the focus remains on leveraging digitalization, embracing consumer-driven trends, and addressing the challenges ahead. The future of tourism in the region hinges on innovation, strategic planning, and a commitment to delivering exceptional travel experiences.




Written by: My Thanh Pham