World’s biggest: Asia Pacific travel market to hit $352 B this year

Singapore — The Asia Pacific travel market is expected to reach almost $352 billion this year, according to the latest report by global travel market research company PhoCusWright.

PhoCusWright revealed the latest growth figures on regional travel outlook at the ITB (Internationale Tourismus-Börse) Asia held here this week.

The report showed that Asia Pacific has become the world’s biggest regional travel market, taking over Europe with $326.2-billion gross bookings in 2012 is expected to post a growth rate of eight percent this year.

The PhoCusWright study says that the projected growth figures for the countries within the Asia Pacific region over the next three years will be led by China, Japan and the Pacific region.

“We expect Asia Pacific travel market to maintain its growth through 2015 to reach $407.3 billion and China will account for a third of that,” said Chetan Kapoor, PhoCusWright research analyst for Asia Pacific. The Indonesian market is also poised for rapid development in the next three years. “Double-digit growth is forecasted for several Asia Pacific markets through 2015,” he added.

At the same time, online leisure and unmanaged business travel bookings in the region also grew by 18 percent this year on improved access to the Internet and mobile gadgets to make travel bookings. In 2012, the aggregate mobile travel gross bookings in China, India and Japan stood at $4.6 billion

PhoCusWright contends that mobile will be the ‘fastest growing travel distribution channel in the region’ through 2015.

A three-day B2B travel trade event organized by Messe Berlin Singapore, ITB Asia has been considered ‘The Trade Show for the Asian Travel Market’. It is part of the week-long, annual trade platform Travel Ravel, organized by Singapore Tourism Board. Eight different events relating to travel and hospitality have attracted both Asian and non-Asian leaders and professionals from across the industry.

“Asia is propelling the growth of the global travel and tourism industry. This in turn leads to more demand for quality platforms like Travel Rave that offer Asia-focused networks, insights and knowledge,” says STB Chief Executive Lionel Yeo. “STB has worked closely with Messe Berlin to grow ITB Asia as an anchor event of Travel Rave, and this strengthens the value proposition of Travel Rave as a dynamic marketplace of ideas and business opportunities.” he adds. This year, 825 exhibiting companies from 73 countries joined the ITB Asia.

‘Millennials’ As Travelers

Asian millennials — people born during the early 1980s to the early 2000s — are seen to be contributing largely to this boom in the region’s travel industry.

At the Asia Travel Leaders Summit, industry heads discussed what it takes to capture this market segment that has emerged as a powerful group of consumers today. The research commissioned by Visa, McKinsey and Company, and the STB among countries China, India, Thailand, and Singapore showed that millennials are ‘independent’, and are ‘thirsty for knowledge and information’.

“But they are not loyal to brands,” said Andrew Grant, director of McKinsey and Company when he presented the findings during the Travel Rave Leaders Gala Tuesday night. He shared that there is a gap between the generation before and the millennials.

The Chinese millennials are found to spend more, while Singaporeans are the ‘most sophisticated’ yet also the ‘most demanding’ of the group surveyed.

Banyan Tree Holdings Executive Chairman Ho Kwon Ping, who is the awardee of the Travel Business Leader of the Year (TBLA) 2012, contends that millennials are ‘the same people’; it’s just that they manifest themselves ‘differently’. To capture them, he says, entails understanding their uniqueness.

“We should not only recognize the difference but also recognize the similarity,” he said during the CNBC Conversation that night. “They are not different species of animals,” he added. Banyan Tree Holdings is a Singapore-based leisure business group that manages and develops premium resorts, hotels and spas, while CNBC’s TBLA recognizes business pioneers who have demonstrated leadership excellence in the travel and tourism industry.