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Posted October 1, 2018

tourists apac growth

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A look at APAC booking trends naturally focuses on China. It would be difficult to overestimate the impact of its enormous population and demand for travel. According to Phocuswright’s 10th edition of Asia Pacific Online Travel Overview; China’s travel gross bookings are expected to grow 46% by 2021. At that time, “China will account for 50% of the APAC online travel market.”

China is the first country where mobile represents the majority of online bookings—68% in 2017 (up 66% from just five years before). Phocuswright estimates “by 2021, mobile will account for 85% of China’s online travel market, almost twice the share of mobile travel in Japan and India.”

In a 2017 study by Nielsen, they found that Chinese respondents took, on average, 2.1 trips from 2016-2017, and they were planning 2.7 trips in 2018. “Among all Chinese tourists who traveled overseas in 2017, 67% had traveled to other Asian countries or regions and 51% to Hong Kong, Macao, or Taiwan, while 38% had been to Europe, 25% to North America, and 20% to Australia/New Zealand.”

A Travelpulse.com article on APAC travel trends reports, “relaxing getaways were far and away most popular with Chinese travelers. Chinese travelers were also very into combining business with leisure trips and taking family vacations.”

China’s staggering travel volume may overshadow others in the region, but there are some interesting things happening with bookings in other APAC countries. For example,

Indonesian gross bookings are projected to grow 38% between now and 2021, and Malaysia and Thailand bookings will increase by 30% during the same time.

Skyscanner’s 2017 Singapore Travel Report examined the browsing and booking habits of thousands of Singaporean travelers over three years and found increases in searches for Asian destinations such as Kathmandu (106%), Okinawa (121%) and Amritsar (217%).

In a study of Hong Kong travelers, the Singapore Tourism Board notes that this group has limited vacation time so they tend to take shorter trips (2-3 nights) within the region. They often undertake price comparisons on multiple channels and then take advantage of the offer that is the best value. The report finds that planning usually takes place about a month before they travel “since most of the trips were to familiar destinations which required less planning.“ Travel from Hong Kong is predominantly within Asia, with China as the top destination, since its proximity allows for shorter trips.

Looking at the dynamic APAC travel market as a single entity would be a mistake. This diverse, and fragmented, region offers incredible opportunities, but it’s important to tailor strategies for specific audiences. Of course, one of those strategies needs to focus on mobile.

For more about the APAC travel market see Asia Pacific Travel Market Growing At A Rapid Pace and More Mobile & OTA Bookings—More Intra-Regional Travel.


Richard Cogswell

Richard Cogswell

Richard joins us with 20 years B2B payments and electronic invoicing experience. Richard is originally from the UK and has been based in Singapore for 6 years with wide ranging experience across APAC. Richard will be helping to lead the expanding WEX APAC team and go to market strategy, focusing on travel and corporate payments in the region.


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