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Six key trends shaping travel experiences in Asia-Pacific

Are you prepared for the Gen-Zs & younger Millennials who are driving recovery across the APAC region & their behavior that is already reshaping the industry

A leading authority for the tours and activities sector, Arival has released six key trends that are shaping the future of travel experiences in APAC.

The findings, from its recent The Outlook for Experiences 2019-2025 research, are released ahead of the annual Arival Activate event, which takes place in Bangkok on June 12 to 14.

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Douglas Quinby, CEO and co-founder of Arival, said: “With many countries beginning to open travel after the pandemic, the Asia Pacific (APAC) region is seeing a surge of renewed interest in travel and tourism.  APAC travelers are spending more, travelling further and for longer.”

Douglas Quinby, Arival

Douglas notes the following key essential experiences trends that are likely to shape the travel experience sector’s recovery – and that every creator and seller of tours, activities, and attractions should be watching: 

1. A very uneven recovery

There are still huge variations in the pace of recovery throughout APAC.

In some markets, travelers are coming back strong – especially from Southeast Asia, Korea and Australia – while some source markets, such as China and Japan, are slower to return.  

2. Intra-regional travel is first, but long-haul and Europe are not far behind

Asia’s travelers have started to travel regionally, but long-haul destinations are likely to not be far behind.  Operators and resellers are reporting increased demand for Europe in particular.

3. The return of the outbound Chinese traveler remains a wild card

China has been a crucial engine of travel growth prior to the pandemic. While domestic travel has largely recovered, international outbound travel has been slow to return.

Operators in the region should be focusing first on other source markets in the region – and be prepared for China’s return in the second half of 2023. 

Eric Zhuang, Chief Strategy Officer of Asia-based DidaTravel recently commented on this shift in preference at the Arival 360 event in Berlin: “The supply chain needs to be re-formed, and also a lot of clients have the change in consumer behaviors and booking patterns. The majority of people will still go to the top destinations of pre-Covid times, but the things they want to do will be quite different.”


4. Younger travelers – and their booking habits – will define the rebound

Gen-Z and younger Millennials are driving the recovery across Asia, and their behavior is already reshaping the industry.  This large, experience-hungry cohort of the traveler population prioritizes experiences over stuff.  They are putting experiences first and they are willing to pay for them. 

Operators must be ready for this. 

This means more small-group, immersive experiences that get travelers off the beaten path with unique, memorable interactions. And it has to be all mobile bookable, with plenty of Instagram- and TikTok-worthy moments.

5. Mobile booking and online marketplaces will more than triple in market share by 2025

With younger travelers leading the rebound, operators must be ready for the mobile wave. “We have seen a growth of 120 percent above the pre-pandemic level,” said Klook ChiefCief Commercial Officer Wilfred Fan when speaking at Arival 360 Berlin in March 2023. 

“That’s a company record, and that trend continues.”

AdobeStock By Elenathewise

6. Small group and independent travel will not only lead travel’s return, but re-define its future in Asia

Younger travelers are seeking more independent and adventurous travel and experiences.

This means more small group tours, independent tours, outdoor adventure activities and other unique experiences that travelers can cherish with family and friends. 

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