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Travel Trend Expectations for the 2020s

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Single apps for all travel needs, passport free travel, and mobile app check-in are the top three ‘new travel norms’ expected by travelers in the next decade, according to new research by Agoda, the world’s fastest growing digital travel platform.

With the continued advancement of technology, revolutionary travel apps, and better connectivity, people expect a lot more from their travel experience in the next decade.  Specifically, Southeast Asians half of all respondents in Indonesia (56%), Singapore (54%), Malaysia (53%), Taiwan (50%), the Philippines (48%) and Thailand (48%) considering this the norm in the next decade. This compares to only a third of people in the United Kingdom and the United States (33%).

One in two South East Asians also view mobile app check in, allowing guests to skip the registration queue, download their room access key and go straight to their rooms, as the norm in the 2020s, with Singaporeans (54%), Filipinos (53%), Malaysians (58%) and Thais (49%) most expectant of this trend.

Meanwhile, Singapore (50%), Vietnam (47%), Philippines (45%), China (44%) and Australia (41%) are the top five origins most likely to see a future with passport-free travel.  In the UK and US, they are less expectant of this advancement with only 1 in 5 expecting it to be the norm within the next decade.

Technology has already made such a positive impact on how and where people travel as innovative technologies, like those developed at Agoda, give travelers instant access to millions of hotels and home properties around the world with real time pricing and availability.

“It is a technology golden age for travelers, as technology is developed to simplify the way anyone, anywhere can search, book and pay for flights, hotels or holiday accommodation. The 2000s was defined by the mouse and the computer, putting online travel booking just a click away.  The 2010s, was defined by the smart phone and app, and put a travel agent in the pocket of every phone owner, and the 2020s will be defined by the power of data and Machine Learning (AI). This will enable companies like Agoda to provide personalized, more relevant recommendations to make booking travel even easier,” explains Timothy Hughes, Vice President of Corporate Development at Agoda. “Asian travelers, in particular, are enthused by, and expectant of, technology developments that enhance and simplify their travel experience.  Asian based companies are now leading the world in technology adoption and development to achieve this. I expect to see Asia press ahead with that lead in the 2020s – especially in areas such as video and augmented reality, improved mobile services with more chat and voice solutions, and payments to help bring the “unbanked” online”.

Globally, people want to increase travel, but also to make eco-friendlier travel choices

Universally, people want to increase the amount of travel they undertake in the 2020s.  Exploring more of their own country is cited by 40% of respondents globally, while international travel more often is anticipated at 35%.

What’s also interesting, in the context of global narratives on climate sustainability, is the trend that more than a quarter want to make more eco-friendly travel choices in the next decade.  Travelers from Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia are most keen to make eco-friendlier

choices perhaps more aware than others with the recent closure of Maya Bay in Thailand, and the Boracay rehabilitation program in Philippines, and thus travelers want to do their bit even when on holiday.

Travelers in the 35-44 and 55+ age groups are most likely to want to explore their own countries and territories more (40% and 42% respectively), with those from China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, The Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, US and Vietnam choosing domestic destinations within their top three wishlist destinations for the coming decade.

Meanwhile Korean and Japanese travelers see themselves taking more solo trips in the next decade. Taiwanese and Indonesians would prefer taking a sabbatical or gap year.

Kyoto scoops #1 spot as the world’s most desired destination to visit in the 20s

Asia dominates the global travel wishlists destinations for the next decade, as travelers from both Asia and the West showcase a growing curiosity for Asian treasures like Kyoto (Japan) famed for its Shinto shrine, Kyoto is an eclectic blend of culture, food and history, followed by Bangkok, (Thailand) and Bali, (Indonesia).

Travelers in Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia want to cross off their own capital cities from their travel lists. Meanwhile, South Korea, the UK, and Australian travelers are the only one who don’t choose a domestic destination on their wishlists for travel in the next decade.

American and British travelers alike are most excited about visiting New York in the coming decade, with New York also a top three choice for travelers from Australia, Japan and South Korea. Both Malaysian and Indonesian travelers would like to visit Makkah by 2030.

MARKET INSIGHTS – AGODA RESEARCH REVEALS TRAVEL TREND EXPECTATIONS FOR THE 2020S

CHINA

Next Decade of Travel

  • 48% of Chinese travelers see using a mobile phone app to check into their hotel room as the norm.
  • China is top five for seeing Passport-free travel as a reality.
  • 25% of Chinese tourists would like to make more eco-friendlier choices in the next ten years.
  • Kyoto tops travel wishlist for Chinese travelers in the 2020s. This is followed by Shanghai (#2) and then Bangkok (#3).
  • 43% of Chinese travelers want to explore more of their own country in the coming decade, while 38% want to travel more internationally.

SINGAPORE

Next Decade of Travel

  • 54% of all Singaporeans expect to be able to check into hotel rooms using their mobile phones as the norm, as well as a single app for all their travel needs.
  • 25% of Singaporeans would like to make more eco-friendly choices when traveling.
  • Zurich tops wishlist for Singaporeans in the 2020s. This is followed by Kyoto (#2) and

Osaka (#3) both of which are in Japan.

  • 53% of Singaporeans would like to travel more internationally in the next decade.

AUSTRALIA

Next Decade of Travel

  • 44% of Australian travelers see using their mobile phones to check into hotels as the norm while 39% expect to use a single app for all their travel needs.
  • Australians are in top five to see Passport-free travel become a reality.
  • 17% of travelers from Australia want to make more eco-friendlier travel choices in the coming decade.
  • London tops wishlist for Australians in the 2020s.This is followed by New York (#2) and then Bangkok (#3).
  • 40% of Australians would like to travel more internationally in the next coming decade, 25% would like to spend more time in Australia, and 21% would like to take more solo trips.
  • Interestingly, Australian travelers have London as one of their three top destinations for travel, British travelers have Sydney.

PHILIPPINES  

Next Decade of Travel

  • 53% of Filipino travelers expect to check into hotels using their mobile phones as the norm while 48% expect to be able to use a single app for all their travel needs.
  • 35% of travelers from Philippines aim to make more eco-friendlier travel choices in the next decade.
  • The capital city of Manila tops wishlist for Filipino travelers in the 2020s. This is followed by Seoul (#2) and Kyoto (#3).
  • 45% of travelers from Philippines would like to explore more of their own country in the coming decade while 39% would like to travel more internationally.

UK

Next Decade of Travel

  • 45% of British travelers expect checking into hotels using their mobile phone as the norm.
  • 28% expect to make all their travel bookings using a single app.
  • 17% of travelers from UK aim to make more eco-friendlier choices when traveling in the next decade.
  • New York tops wishlist travelers from the UK in the 2020s. This is followed by Sydney (#2) and Kyoto (#3).
  • 36% British travelers would like to explore more of their own country in the coming decade while 24% would like to travel more internationally.
  • Interestingly, Australian travelers have London as one of their three top destinations for travel, British travelers have Sydney.

USA

Next Decade of Travel

  • 42% of Americans expect to check into hotels using their mobile phones as the norm while 29% expect to use a single app for all their travel needs.
  • 12% of Americans want to make more eco-friendlier choices when traveling in the next decade.
  • New York tops wishlist travelers in the US in the 2020s. This is followed by London (#2) and Sydney (#3).
  • 38% of Americans would like to explore more of their own country in the next decade, while 26% would like to travel more internationally

Malaysia

Next Decade of Travel

  • 58% of Malaysians expect to be able to use their mobile phones for hotel check-ins as the norm, while 53% expect using a single app for all their travel needs.
  • 36% of Malay travelers would like to make more eco-friendlier choices when traveling.
  • The capital city of Kuala Lumpur tops wishlist travelers in Malaysia in the 2020s. This is followed by Makkah (#2) and then Bali (#3).
  • 43% of Malaysians would like to travel more internationally in the next decade, while 40% would like to explore their own country more.

Thailand

Next Decade of Travel

  • Almost half, 49% of Thais anticipate using their mobile phones to check into hotels as the norm, making them one of the highest expectant of this trend.
  • 39% expect to be able to use a single app for all their travel needs.
  • 32% of Thai travelers wish to make more eco-friendlier choices when travelling.
  • The capital city of Bangkok tops wishlist for Thais in the 2020s. This is followed by Kyoto (#2) and then Phuket (#3).
  • 36% of Thai travelers would like to explore more of their own country in the next decade, while 30% would like to travel more internationally.

Taiwan

Next Decade of Travel

  • 50% of Taiwanese travelers expect to use a single app for all their travel needs, while 44% anticipate checking into hotels using their mobile phones to be the norm.
  • 21% of Taiwanese aim to make more eco-friendlier travel choices in the next ten years.
  • The capital city of Taipei tops wishlist of travelers in Taiwan. This is followed by Kyoto (#2) and then Amsterdam (#3).
  • 48% of travelers from Taiwan would like to travel more internationally in the next decade, while 37% would like to explore more of their own country.
  • 29% of Taiwanese travelers would like to take a sabbatical from work or a gap year.

Indonesia

Next Decade of Travel

  • 56% of Indonesian travelers expect a single app to book all travel needs to be a reality in the next decade, while 47% anticipate checking into hotels just by using their mobile phone.
  • Another 39% aim to make more eco-friendlier choices when traveling, making Indonesians one of the highest potential leaders of this change with 26% being the average.
  • Interestingly, Bali tops wishlist of travelers in Indonesia. This is followed by Makkah (#2) and then Borobudur (#3).
  • 39% of Indonesians would like to explore more of their own country.
  • 29% of Indonesians wish to take a sabbatical or gap year.

Vietnam

Next Decade of Travel

  • 43% of travelers from Vietnam expect to check into their hotels using just their mobile phone as the norm.
  • 47% of Vietnamese surveyed want to see Passport-free travel to become a reality, becoming them the highest-ranking country for this travel trend.
  • 36% of Vietnamese travelers would like to make more eco-friendlier choices when traveling.
  • Interestingly, Ho Chi Minh city tops wishlist of travelers in Vietnam. This is followed by Kyoto (#2) and then Bangkok (#3).
  • 49% of Vietnamese travelers would like to explore more of their own country in the coming decade, while 41% would like to travel more internationally.

Japan

Next Decade of Travel

  • 34% of travelers from Japan expect to check into hotels using just their mobile phones as the norm.
  • 24% of Japanese travelers anticipate driver/buggy service to be available at airports, becoming the highest expectant market for this travel trend.
  • 7% of Japanese travelers would like to make more eco-friendlier travel choices
  • Interestingly, Kyoto city tops wishlist of travelers in Japan in the 2020s. This is followed by Paris (#2) and then New York (#3).
  • 62% of Japanese travelers would like to explore more of their own country, while 23% would like to travel more internationally.
  • 18% of Japanese travelers would like to take more solo trips.

Korea

Next Decade of Travel

  • 47% of Korean travelers expect to check into hotels using just their mobile phones as the norm, while 40% expect to book all their travel needs using a single app.
  • 19% of Koreans aim to make more eco-friendlier choices in the next decade.
  • New York city tops wishlist of travelers from Korea in the 2020s. This is followed by Barcelona (#2) and then Brisbane (#3).
  • 48% of Korean travelers expect to travel internationally more often, while 42% wish to explore more of their own country.
  • 22% of Koreans would like to take more solo trips in the coming decade.

About the travel data

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Singapore PTE Limited. Total sample size was 16,383 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12 December 2019 and 18 December 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of adults in the respective countries (aged 18+).

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Vaccine Only Part of the Cure for Resumption of Pacific Travel: World Bank Report

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With COVID-19 vaccine distribution now in its early stages, early steps toward the resumption of labour migration in the Pacific region underway, and hopes for an international travel ‘bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand, questions are now arising as to what additional measures will be needed before international tourism returns to the Pacific region. In this context, World Bank analysis, How Could the Pacific Restore International Travel?, has recommended that Pacific Island countries and Papua New Guinea (PNG) take a phased approach to resuming international travel to the region in order to safeguard against COVID-19 outbreaks and ensure a steady economic recovery.

Pacific countries have, so far, managed to largely protect citizens from COVID-19 through international border closures. Yet, the economic impacts of the pandemic in the region have been significant. Recent economic modeling by the World Bank shows that all Pacific economies are estimated to have contracted in 2020– particularly those reliant on tourism. Fiji, for example, is estimated to have seen a reduction in GDP of close to 20% in 2020. While a modest recovery is expected in 2021, output levels are not expected to reach pre-COVID19 levels until 2022 or later.

“We want to assist policy makers in the Pacific and PNG to make informed decisions about the risks, and benefits, of when and how they choose to re-open to international travel,” explained Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands of the motivation behind producing the report.

“Due to weak health systems, any large COVID-19 outbreaks could have devastating consequences for the region. Recent World Bank surveys show that the pandemic’s economic impacts and closed borders are forcing families to make tough choices, like going without food or withdrawing children from schooling, and these can have harmful consequences for years to come.”

The report proposes that re-opening travel to the Pacific should be done in phases, but it cautions that relaxing strict border policies alone will not immediately deliver economic benefits. The three phases are:

  • Phase 1 beginning between January and July 2021: Pre-approved travel for specific groups (more temporary workers, students etc.) Strong testing and quarantine measures would be the foundation for any travel bubble.
  • Phase 2 beginning between June 2021 and May 2022: A ‘travel bubble’ with commercial flights for business and tourism. This would require sustained COVID-19 containment, improved testing and tracing, and initial roll-out of vaccinations.
  • Phase 3 beginning between October 2021 and October 2022: A ‘new normal’. Longer term general international travel requiring wide distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and treatment with vastly improved testing and tracing.

“The ‘triple win’ of labor mobility – for the individual worker, for Australian and New Zealand businesses, and for PNG and Pacific economies – means we highly recommend it be prioritized in phase 1,” said Andrew Blackman, author of the report.

“Tourism is also central to several Pacific economies, with many flow-on effects for domestic supply chains and benefits for both genders. Not many other industries deliver the same economic and social benefits but opening up to tourists represents a big health risk and so must be planned carefully. The World Bank is committed to supporting our partner countries across the region as they determine the best course of action,” continued Mr. Blackman.

The report warns that Pacific governments and their partners will have to invest significantly in testing and tracing capabilities at every phase of re-opening, and each country will have to weigh this financial burden with the potential benefits of resuming international travel. Assuming that wide distribution of the current COVID-19 vaccines will take months, any ‘new-normal’ travel arrangements are unlikely to be in place before late 2021.

Based on this proposed timeline, economic activity across the Pacific could remain depressed for another 9-18 months. To help address this, the World Bank’s second phase of COVID-19 support to the region will focus on helping countries address the economic and social impacts of the pandemic, support businesses, safeguard jobs, and advance the reforms needed to speed recovery towards broad-based and sustainable growth.

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Coronavirus is a chance to reshape how we travel

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As the world slowly emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, many people’s thoughts have turned to holidays. How many of us feel for a break? But what sort of break?

Months of lockdowns and isolation, not to mention deaths of loved ones and a new-found respect for healthcare workers, have triggered serious reflection on the ways in which the world has been functioning.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the tourism sector. A healthy tourism industry is essential for the global economy, culture and environment, but in the past, it has also done harm.

“This pandemic sent a warning that we need to change the way we live, travel and see the world. We have an opportunity to build back greener and opt for low-carbon measures that protect nature and biodiversity while maintaining the economic benefits that the multi-million dollar tourism industry brings to local communities around the world,” said Mark Radka, Chief, Energy and Climate Branch of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The stakes are high. In 2019, the sector accounted for – directly and indirectly – some 330 million jobs worldwide, equivalent to one in 10 jobs globally, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Related sectors such as hospitality, hotels and food service industries, employed an additional 144 million workers in both developed and developing countries. Failure to recover could reduce global GDP by 1.5 to 2.8 per cent.

In some Small Island Developing States, tourism accounts for 30 per cent of export revenues (UNWTO). Small businesses, responsible for 80 per cent of the industry, are particularly vulnerable, as well as women, who make up 54 per cent of the tourism workforce, according to studies by ILO and the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Moving to sustainable tourism

UNEP is at the forefront of efforts to mainstream policies which transform the industry and address the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

At a recent online conference, Transforming Tourism for a resilient and sustainable post-COVID world, UNEP experts laid out a six-point plan moving from over tourism to sustainable tourism by building more resilient communities and businesses through innovation, digitalization, circularity, sustainable finance, sustainability and partnerships.

“Financial stimulus and recovery packages for COVID-19 are a once in a lifetime opportunity – not a dollar can be lost or wasted while transforming the tourism sector towards a future which is as  ‘pandemic and climate-proof’ as possible,” said Radka.

The pandemic’s impact on tourism has been significant. Dwindling tourist numbers in protected areas have threatened the species and communities that live there. Deforestation and poaching have risen in many parts of the world. COVID-19 also led to an increase in single-use plastic products and packaging by the hotel and tourism industry.

“Reducing the use of plastic items and packaging can actually reduce cross-contamination touch points,” said Helena Rey, Tourism Programme Officer from UNEP. “Through cleaning and sanitization procedures, the tourism industry can bring in re-use models that can increase traceability and reduce the risk of contamination. This would also ensure that tourism reduces the burden on local waste management systems and protects local ecosystems.”

UNEP is raising awareness of these issues through global campaigns and partnerships, including the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative and the Clean Seas campaign. These efforts call on citizens, governments, and industry to take action to reduce plastic pollution. In particular, the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative enables businesses, governments, and other tourism stakeholders to lead by example in the shift towards greater circularity in the use of plastics.

Transforming value chains

Tourism is responsible for 1/10th of greenhouse emissions worldwide. UNEP is working with its partners to reduce emissions created by hotel operations, food consumption and events. The work is supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

The Transforming Tourism Value Chains project focuses on environmental issues like cutting food waste, improving the sourcing of products and services, and improving the efficiency of air conditioners, in four countries in which tourism occupies a major role in the national economy: the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Mauritius and St Lucia.

Jake Kheel, vice president of Grupo Punta Cana, a private sector partner in the Dominican Republic, says this makes good business sense as holidaymakers, particularly the younger generation, want to be assured they are bringing value to the places they visit.

“People want to know their leisure time is not affecting local communities and eco-systems. Handled correctly, tourism can bring great benefits, create jobs, increase revenue for people who need schools and health services. It has to be self-sufficient,” he said.

The pandemic has also advanced digitalisation, innovation and the integration of new technologies into tourism. Virtual journeys, electronic menus, touchless check ins, digital consumption behaviours are on the rise. Since the COVID-19 outbreak this year, the online ticketing rates at scenic sites nationwide in China have risen to around 40% from less than 20% in 2019, signalling a rapid uptake in digitalization.

UN Environment

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CAREC Endorses Long-Term Strategy to Promote Safe, Sustainable, and Inclusive Tourism

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Ministers and senior officials from the 11 member countries of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program have endorsed a new long-term strategy to promote safe, sustainable, and inclusive tourism development in the region, and enhance its attractiveness as a competitive tourism destination globally.

The CAREC Tourism Strategy 2030, presented at the 19th CAREC Ministerial Conference held virtually today, was endorsed by ministers and senior officials representing Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan also attended the meeting.

“The CAREC region is home to a wide range of historical and cultural heritage sites; unique gastronomy and local traditions; a rich, unexplored network of cities; and arresting natural endowments that traverse national boundaries,” said Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice-President Shixin Chen, co-chair of the conference. “Through the gradual implementation of regional initiatives, the CAREC Tourism Strategy 2030 will help the region bounce back from COVID-19 and establish itself as a sustainable, safe, and easily accessible tourism destination over the long term.”

In 2019, CAREC countries generated more than 420 million domestic tourists but only received 41 million foreign tourists. With the COVID-19 pandemic severely affecting global tourism in 2020, the CAREC Tourism Strategy 2030 accounts for the shift in travelers’ preference towards closer, safer, and uncrowded destinations while outlining a long-term plan to develop the region as an easily accessible tourism destination that provides visitors with a variety of unique experiences.

The strategy provides a roadmap towards the enhancement of the region’s connectivity through the harmonization of visa requirements and quality standards, simplification of border crossing procedures, and improvement of tourism infrastructure and facilities. It also focuses on tourism skills development while maximizing the use of digital technologies.

It aims to build a common brand, “Visit Silk Road”, through the creation of a CAREC tourism web portal and joint promotional activities for tour operators and other business providers. It seeks to develop unique tourism products and experiences catering to various segments including business, culture, nature and adventure, sun and beach holidays, health and wellness, and domestic weekenders.

“By fostering sustainable tourism growth in rural and urban areas, the new strategy will also help to reduce regional imbalances and empower local communities,” said ADB Director General for Central and West Asia Werner Liepach. “It will promote gender equality by promoting jobs and income opportunities for private sector SMEs and entrepreneurs including women and young people.”

The CAREC Program is a partnership of 11 countries to promote economic growth and sustainable development through regional cooperation. It is supported by development partners including ADB, which serves as the Secretariat for the CAREC Program.

Since 2001, the CAREC Program has financed 208 regional infrastructure and trade projects worth $39.2 billion. Of this, $14.7 billion has been financed by ADB, $15.8 billion by other development partners, and $8.7 billion by CAREC member country governments.

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