The TTG Asia team asked buyers near and far which destinations are flying off the shelves and what they have their bets on for next year
For 2012, our bestselling destination was Europe, in particular Italy and Switzerland, due to the attractive airfares offered by Emirates and Etihad Airways via the Middle East, which also facilitated popular, two-night stopovers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Nepal should sell well in 2013. It is a beautiful place to visit, with its mountain ranges, natural attractions and local culture. AirAsia X and Malaysia Airlines launched direct flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kathmandu earlier this year.
Lina Tsen, manager, Ibanika Tours & Travel, Malaysia
Thailand was our top seller for 2012 and it will still probably be for 2013. We just started selling it this year, and we already see that the culture, cuisine and climate are extremely attractive to South Korean travellers. Thailand is also relatively cheap, with good deals found in places such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Bangkok. The volume is especially high for leisure travellers.
Edmond de Fontenay, CEO, Evasion, South Korea
Vietnam is up 20 per cent so far this year on 2011 bookings, making it our fastest-selling destination. Singaporeans flock to Vietnam for its culture and food, and let’s not forget, the shopping.
It’s hard to tell which destination will do well in 2013 given the uncertainty in the global economy. My bet is that countries in Indochina, including Vietnam and Myanmar, will continue to grow, as more Singaporeans yearn for adventure.
Jimmy Sim, product development director, Dorison Travel, Singapore
We sold Finland really well, and sales for the Northern Lights itineraries have tripled this year. Having done the traditional West Europe circuit, Singaporeans are now looking for alternative destinations.
Based on what we’ve seen, there is a strong chance Spain will be our bestseller for 2013. Spain is number one for one reason alone – its cuisine. Andalucia is a popular region for self-drive holidays for Singaporeans because of its scenery.
Rufus Tan, head of media and marketing, Quotient TravelPlanner, Singapore
This year, destinations like Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan have done quite well. These places are very accessible because of the availability of direct flights, a good choice of hotels and decent service standards.
For 2013, I have seen good growth for Thailand, where rates are low. I think South Korea will emerge stronger, while Japan is definitely recovering and the country is holding more promotions than before.
Kevin Cheong, supervisor – meetings & incentives, BCD Travel, Hong Kong
We send almost 35,000-40,000 travellers annually to Singapore/Malaysia/Thailand, and they will continue to be the biggest destinations for us. These are nearby, weekend destinations for Indian travellers. They are what I call over-the-counter destinations. Indians like the shopping and theme parks there, plus pricing is cheap. Cruise holidays are also getting very popular, resulting in travellers coming back to Singapore again and again. There are also no language or food problems.
Raghuvinder Singh, director, D Paul’s Travel & Tours, India
For this year, it has to be a tie between India and Thailand. It was the Year of India in Canada in 2011, so there was a huge campaign and that motivated people to visit India. We also get a lot of FITs and small groups going to Thailand, which is easy to sell because it’s the gateway to South-east Asia and has beautiful beaches.
There is growing interest in Myanmar because of news reports on how it has opened its doors. I am also thinking of increasing the number of yoga trips I do for Bhutan, which has been growing in popularity due to word of mouth. Travellers can also access it via India or Thailand.
Bernard Bacle, director, Club Aventure Voyages, Canada
The extensive international media attention alongside new and increased air routes mean Myanmar is the latest hot seller. Myanmar often exceeds clients’ expectations, so when they return home from their vacations, they provide extremely excellent feedback of their trips and the word spreads. Hopefully the country will grow with improved infrastructure and hotel development. Myanmar will continue to be popular in 2013, followed by growing interest in Indonesia and Japan, which is already back on the travel radar.
Maeve Nolan, product & operations manager, Backyard Travel, Thailand
Myanmar. Many people have shown interest to travel to this country since sanctions were lifted in 2010. We have seen a 40 per cent year-on-year increase in demand this year. Interest will remain high next year and we expect group tours to Myanmar to do better as compared to the FIT segment, as the country has become more expensive over the past year.
Neill Prothero, product manager – Far East, Cox & Kings, UK
Hong Kong is a hot seller, as Filipinos like going there for shopping in places such as Mong Kok, as well as to visit theme parks. Singapore has taken away some traffic with its new attractions, but still cannot overtake Hong Kong. Another upcoming destination is South Korea because of religious reasons. The Philippines is a Catholic country, and there is interest in South Korea’s Our Lady of Naju. The destination is also good for shopping.
William Po, director of marketing, Wonder Resort Travel Centre, Philippines
Additional reporting from Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, Hannah Koh, Linda Haden and Brian Higgs