Here are 5 hot Asian travel topics that the global tourism industry and the media will be watching closely – and talking about – in the coming months:
1) The Comeback Markets
How will destinations prioritise and select their initial inbound markets, and at what scale? It is highly unlikely that borders will be reopened to all nations in the first instance, especially in countries that successful managed COVID-19. The same may apply to nations that have rapidly rolled out their vaccination programmes, or have small populations that enable fast universal inoculation. So, will there be selective travel bubbles, exclusive inbound agreements, charter-only arrivals and capped visitor quotas? When will the region’s two highly coveted mega markets, China & India, return to the travel eco-system? Of the 5 hotel Asian travel topics in this article – this one will garner the most column inches.
2) Single-shot Vaccines & Boosters
A swathe of new COVID-19 vaccines will be approved and made available in the coming months. This will challenge the procurement strategies of governments across Asia, and worldwide. Some of these will be single-, rather than double-, shot vaccines, will offer longer lasting protection and will be easier to administer. At least one new vaccine being trialled will be administered nasally, rather than by injetion. Some of the first-wave vaccines will likely be upgraded to ensure protection against new variants.
3) New Consumer Priorities
Many travellers will not have boarded an outbound flight for at least 18 months, perhaps more, when they venture overseas once more. So much has changed in this interim period. How will their trip hopes, priorities and expectations have changed? Is the travel industry prepared for what could be truly transformative behavioural shifts?
4) Tokyo 2021 vs Beijing 2022
Will the delayed Tokyo Olympics go ahead this summer? At present, it seems unlikely – or, at the very best, the events will take place in empty venues. This would provide a huge psychological blow for Japan, and the region – which was hoping for a summer spectacular to inject much needed consumer confidence. Meanwhile, how will Beijing strategise for the 2022 Winter Games should Tokyo 2021 be cancelled. China is preparing for Beiing to become the first city to host both the Summer (2008) and Winter Olympics, but to what degree will its planning be enhanced or impeded by another Tokyo postponement?
5) Domestic Tourism Development
Across the region, domestic tourism has proved a vital – if patchy – lifeline over the past year. Few countries in the region successfully developed their domestic travel sectors before the pandemic, so has COVID-19 resulted in a priorty shift, not just among policy planners but travellers themselves? Will destinations strategise longer term to nurture and nourish their domestic tourism sectors, or simply view the past year (and, most likely, the next few months) as an interim transition period before inbound travel recommences?
If you enjoyed this 5 Hot Asian Travel Topics for Q1 article, why not read Asia’s 10 Burning Travel Questions in 2021 here.