Industry Update
Editorial Article20 September 2021

Phocuswright Tips Five Key Trends To Watch In APAC

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PhoCusWright Inc.

THE Covid-19 pandemic ravaged economies and the travel industry in Asia Pacific (APAC), especially in countries with a higher dependency on tourism. As governments tried to protect their populations, they imposed severe restrictions on national and international mobility dealing a massive blow to the travel and hospitality industry.


According to Phocuswright’s latest travel research report Asia Pacific Travel Market Report 2020-2024, in 2020, total travel gross bookings were projected to slide 58% to US$184 billion, from $444 billion a year earlier. The percentage drop was the smallest among all regional travel markets, mainly because China – the biggest travel market in APAC – controlled the virus earlier and better than most other countries globally.

The road to recovery is long and varies by market, especially as the more contagious Delta variant of the virus wreaks havoc across the region in 2021, hampering travel recovery. The market is still expected to reach its 2019 size by 2024.

These are five key developments from the research that travel companies should keep their eye on:

  1. OTAs emerge stronger: In 2020, OTAs increased their share of online bookings to be at par with suppliers. Strong brands, superior customer experience, increased suppliers’ reliance on intermediaries, customers’ inclination to use OTAs, and traditional agency business transition to online channels acted as a tailwind for OTAs growth.
  2. China pulls mobile penetration up: Regionally, almost six dollars will be spent on mobile for every 10 travel dollars spent online in that year.
  3. Domestic shines, international remains gloomy: Travel suppliers across countries have redesigned their product offerings to focus on local and domestic travel. Countries with an enormous domestic market like China, India and Australia have a natural advantage over others that have a higher dependency on inbound tourism like Singapore and Thailand.
  4. China sets an example: China’s distinct experience may hold lessons for other travel markets globally.
  5. Vaccines are a cause for optimism: Phocuswright projects that the APAC travel market will nearly reach its 2019 size by 2024. Vaccines will play a vital role in this journey. Though the pace of vaccine rollouts varies by market, many countries in the region aim to vaccinate most of their population by the end of this year.
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