Here’s a 60-second speed-read of Asia Travel Re:Set Issue #105 – Free Travel Giveaways Highlight the Covid Overhang in Asia Pacific!, published on 12 March 2023.
The travel and tourism sectors across Asia Pacific are frantically promoting now the region is fully open.
In 2022, staggered re-openings for tourism occurred in South East Asia and North East Asia. China joined the reopening party in January 2023. This means 2023 will be the first year since 2019 that regional tourism operates across the calendar.
Every destination is watching everyone else – very closely. As competition intensifies to attract visitors, some tourism marketers are turning to freebies and giveaways. These are tailored to make headlines, drive a social buzz and entice tourists.
Hong Kong is giving away 500,000 free flight tickets.
Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau will “distribute” NT$5,000 each to 500,000 international visitors, plus free sightseeing bus tours are on offer in Taipei.
This week, Vietnam’s low-cost carrier Vietjet issued a new promotion offering free domestic flights in Vietnam for Australian travellers.
Meanwhile, an article this week by Travel Weekly Asia about a new Singapore tourism programme was headlined Freebies galore as Singapore unveils SingapoRewards programme.
So why is all this happening? Three primary reasons:
1) Fierce destination competition to attract tourists
2) An “if they are doing it, shouldn’t we?” marketing mindset
3) Genuine uncertainty that 2023 visitor and spending targets can be achieved.
Tourism is (forget the ‘high-quality, high spending’ tourism debate, which is simply a distraction) a numbers game.
Recovery in Asia Pacific is, and will continue to be in 2023, uneven. Some destinations will prosper compared to 2022, others may improve upon last year’s results but remain under-par, and others will likely perform well below governmental expectations.