On the road with their brood – inbound

Family travel is becoming more online-savvy, multigenerational, adventurous, exploratory, yet safety-conscious, a poll of inbound agents in Asia-Pacific

Gary Paterson, general manager, global sales & marketing, The AOT Group
Visiting families from Asia are still finding Australia the perfect getaway destination as it does not require long flights, and only about three to five nights away from home.

We see families today as being much more independent than ever before. They undertake more research online before they arrive, and look for cool new things on offer in a destination, for instance an arts festival like Vivid Sydney or the Night Noodle Markets in Melbourne.

The growing abundance of hotel apartments in Australia also offers families a huge selection of accommodation conveniently located in the city centre. What is also often surprising for Asian visitors is the wide array of Asian cuisines on offer, as well as the range of world famous restaurants in Australia.

Kapil Goswamy, managing director, Trans India Holidays
Previously, India was perceived as a destination for mature travellers or couples. Fortunately, this perception has changed in recent years, and we are seeing a large number of families with young children visiting India these days.

Parents realise that in addition to seeing monuments or learning about the country’s history, activities such as trekking in the Himalayas, or going on a wildlife safari in one of the many national parks, will be interesting for children as well.

These trips will also allow for a digital detox, giving the family time to bond.

Almost every tourist destination in India has child-friendly activities, such as a Segway tour in Delhi, a hot air balloon ride in Jaipur, or mountain biking in Shimla. Beach holidays in Goa remain popular as well, but wildlife holidays and village walks are rising in popularity.

Tsunehisa Kumagai, sales manager, Tonichi Travel Service
This year, we have seen an increase in the number of foreign tourists coming to Japan in family groups, and this is due, in part, to the terrorist attacks in Europe.

We deal primarily with inbound travellers from North America and families, who in previous years would go to Paris, Barcelona or London. It’s safe here and they know it. And that is very important to them when they are with their children.

Families want to experience authentic Japanese culture – the cuisine, history, temples and so on, but youngsters are also keen to see Japanese anime and manga culture. The US has its own theme parks, so that is not a big draw for visitors from North America, but theme parks are more popular with families from other parts of Asia and Australia.

Saini Vermeulen, executive director, Within Earth Holidays
Middle Eastern families on holiday look for hotels and villas with private pools as they value privacy, especially for the women, and Malaysia has a growing number of such resorts to choose from.

The country also gets many repeat visitors from the Middle East region, and such visitors tend to book their transfers and tours online, and make their own travel arrangements. They may use the services of a tour operator for arrival transfers only.

However, first time visitors from the Middle East travelling with children continue to require the services of a travel agent as they are unfamiliar with the destination.

For the Middle East market, travelling with extended families, including grandparents, and doing things together, has always been the norm, especially during the summer season, where stays can extend to two to three weeks.

In Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur remains popular for shopping, while Penang and Langkawi are popular beach destinations.

Gigi Jamora, operations manager, Blue Horizons Travel and Tours
It’s always Boracay. Bohol and Cebu are also options, and the markets that we deal with always prefer top-end resorts. Families come from India, the Middle East, Europe and China although the latter are mainly couples.

The market segments that we deal with, luckily for us, are aware how far hot spots like Mindanao are from Manila.

Depending upon the kids’ age brackets, families with toddlers prefer attractions that are safe come with child-minding services and playgrounds such as the Enchanted Kingdom in Laguna and the J Waterpark in Cebu. Those with teens prefer island hopping, especially with water activities, as well as kayaking and trekking.

Joseph Sze, project director, Siam Express
Families are preferring more semi-FIT packages, where they go online and research for places to visit, and hunt down these locales after they break away from the group.
Hawker centres in the heartlands such as Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio and Tiong Bahru are becoming popular with families during the free-and-easy portion of their visit, as well as handicraft shops in Haji Lane and Little India, where tourists can get products they cannot find in their own countries.

Chotechuang Soorangura, associate managing director, NS Travel & Tours
Foreign tourists see Thailand as a cheap destination with great food. Families who travel to the kingdom usually choose destinations outside Bangkok for activities. Usually, a family group would consist of many generations; this is common in Indian families.
We’ve also seen Chinese families combine family holidays with business, where they come to Thailand to spend time with their loved ones, while taking some time to explore potential business opportunities.

The top three destinations in the country are Koh Samui, Phuket, Chiang Mai. The beaches of Thailand are famous among foreign visitors, so they prefer to spend more time in the southern part of the country as compared to the north.

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