Online travel platform Booking.com has launched its inaugural APAC Travel Confidence Index, providing a snapshot of how confident consumers feel about exploring the world again and whether they would welcome inbound travel.
The commissioned research polled 11,000 travellers from 11 markets across Asia and Oceania between April and May 2022, combining this with the company’s proprietary data and insights as a digital travel leader over the past 25 years.
The Travel Confidence Index explores the overall comfort levels, motivators and concerns of consumers across Asia Pacific and how this varies across the region. Results revealed that 71% of Hong Kong travellers plan to travel in the next 12 months. A similar percentage of them “just want to get away” since they are sick being stuck at home. At the same time, the top three considerations when booking their next trip are safety (63%), quarantine periods (58%) and cost (51%).
Across the 11 markets polled, India emerged most confident with 86% of India travellers stating they intend to travel in the next 12 months; followed closely by Vietnam and China. While North Asian markets of Korea, Taiwan and Japan ranked lower on the index in terms of overall confidence, travel intent among respondents remained relatively high (above 60%).
Hong Kong ranked 7th on the Travel Confidence Index despite having a continuous tight boarder restriction in past years in comparison to many markets across the region. Some key concerns from local travellers indicated from the survey included local and overseas quarantine requirement (55%), possibility of getting stuck at destinations under new boarder regulations (43%) and the fear of getting infected of COVID-19 (37%).
When it came to looking at the ideal trip length in local travellers’ eyes, 54% of respondents stated that a trip lasts from six to nine days is most preferred, followed by a short trip from two to five days (27%).
When asked whether travellers accepted disruptions as being part and parcel of travel now, half of Hong Kong respondents said yes. The desire to travel remains strong amongst Asia Pacific travellers overall, with ease of planning and booking travel as well as cost being the top two considerations. Both ranked consistently high across all markets, even as restrictions continue to ease around the region.
While restrictions are still in place, 55% Hong Kong travellers feel leisure travel is still important to them.
The desire to “just get away” (70%) emerged as the top motivator to travel for Hong Kong consumers after two years of lockdowns and a rapidly evolving travel landscape; followed closely by a “visit to a new destination” for 43% of respondents and “getaway to recharge mentally” for 27% of respondents. Only 10% indicated that work was a reason for them to book a trip, which was the least common reason for travel.
Altered traveller behaviour despite international travel back in place
When travel restrictions were still upheld in Hong Kong, staycation and a series of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and glamping, have become the go-to for many Hong Kong residents. The Hong Kong Tourism Board also launched Spend-to-Redeem local tours and staycation packages to encourage domestic travelling.
Booking.com's latest Travel Confidence Index revealed that domestic travellers’ behaviours have been changing in the past years and staycation is likely to be a part of the permanent vacation roster in the future. Almost half (47%) of respondents indicated that they are likely to book domestic staycations even when international travel is possible again, and a similar level of respondents (46%) also stated that they are still likely to engage in outdoor activities locally even when international travel resumes.
Despite the rise of domestic activities, majority of Hong Kong travellers (69%) are likely to travel internationally if travel bubbles are widely implemented between Hong Kong and other markets. The COVID-19 health and safety measures remain the top considerations (49%) of travellers that will impact their choice when booking an accommodation, regardless internationally or domestically. Hygienic concerns such as the tidiness and cleanliness of the accommodation also shows significant impact (40%) while other usual travel considerations also show weight in affecting travellers choices, such as hotels’ amenities and facilities (38%) and proximity to local transportation (38%).
In terms of sustainability, almost half (48%) agreed that they are willing to pay more to make more sustainable choices, while a similar level of respondents (50%) agreed that they are fine to have less variety in options in order to make travel decisions sustainable.
Laura Houldworth, managing director of Asia Pacific at Booking.com, said: “It’s truly been heartwarming and exciting to see travel in Asia Pacific returning with the easing of most border restrictions. This has reinvigorated not just consumers, but the travel industry overall. Our APAC Travel Confidence Index reflects how while travel intent remains strong, travel confidence remains nuanced across Asia - for a variety of reasons. It is a promising indication of the opportunities available for the industry to adapt and collaborate now to bolster the overall confidence of travellers, so we can truly make it easier for everyone to travel and experience the world again in a sustainable way.”
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