We ask 45 industry leaders to share their visions of the travel and tourism sector. In response, we hear what excites them about the future and what they would like to change to bring their visions to life
1. Alan Watts
President, Asia-Pacific, Hilton
With today’s rapid shift towards personalisation in digital and offline spaces, consumers expect targeted, tailored products and services from brands. Digital innovation is hence vital in driving customer acquisition and brand loyalty, particularly in travel and hospitality.
2. Linh Le
CEO and founder, ASIA DMC
Currently, knowledge and local relationships with DMCs are taken for granted by the masses.
I would like to see more travel companies put value in their knowledge and expertise and commoditise them. Customers should be educated to understand that piecing together great itineraries is truly a craft.
President director, Panorama Group
Many countries of the world are already gradually easing visa restrictions and removing barriers to travel. This moves us closer to barrier-free tourism which will stimulate more travel, and positively impact economic growth and people empowerment through tourism. If we believe travel is a basic human right, there should be effortless access for everybody to experience the world.
4. Mamoru Kobori
Executive vice president, Japan National Tourism Organization
Japan’s potential for inbound tourism is huge, and I am excited about the Japan National Tourism Organization’s role in enticing more foreign travellers to Japan.
We are contributing to a positive and exciting future through economic growth, regional revitalisation, promoting cross-cultural understanding, and promoting the power of the Japan brand.
5. John O’Sullivan
Managing director, Tourism Australia
I am really excited about the tourism opportunities for Australia, particularly in markets across Asia. In late 2018, we launched our new A$10 million (US$7 million) UnDiscover Australia campaign across South and South-east Asia, targeting high-value travellers and challenging their perceptions of Australia by showcasing unusual, unfamiliar and unexpected attractions and experiences.
6. Gerald Hendrick
General manager, Bintan Lagoon Resort and senior vice president, Resort Venture
Being nimble and flexible are keys to enhancing productivity and guest satisfaction. The world is in a constant state of change and new competitors are on the rise, so we need to be ready and ahead of the game. We must continuously evolve to respond to customers’ needs and wants.
7. Edward Goh
Vice president, commercial strategy, Hong Kong, Disneyland Resort
I am thrilled to imagine the possibilities of multi-sensory Disney experiences enhanced by innovative technology, bringing the magic of Disney’s stories and characters to life. I am excited about how the juxtaposition of cutting-edge high-tech attractions with all-time classics within the park can build a unique entertainment experience that appeals across cultures, ages and backgrounds.
8. Subhash Goyal
Chairman, STIC Travel Group
It is difficult to imagine how travel would be in the next 45 years because so many innovations are taking place across the globe.
In the next 10 to 15 years, we may be seeing driverless cars on the roads and remote-controlled aeroplanes in the air. I can also imagine a world with more virtual travel. I hope by then, there will be space travel, and there will be tours organised to the moon and other planets.
9. Lindsey Ueberroth
CEO, Preferred Hotels & Resorts
I envision the travel market to be larger than ever before, and technology will allow us to make travel personal and seamless, although I believe there will be a boomerang back to people-driven service and experiences. I hope travel is made easier with less red tape on visas, easier airlift to more remote destinations, as well as fast and seamless security regardless of how you are travelling.
10. Chin Sak Hin
Assistant chief executive, Sentosa Development Corporation
With travellers becoming more digitally savvy, they will be more discerning. Travel will be even more accessible and efficient. It is therefore important we continue to develop new technologies to unlock more opportunities to connect communities around
11. Anthony Lim
Managing director, Insight Vacations, Asia
I hope the industry will start to dedicate more resources to cater to the needs of customers seeking exclusive, experience-led holidays. The increasing demand by Asian travellers for luxury holidays shows there is a growing segment of affluent customers who are willing to pay for quality holidays.
12. Dileep Mudadeniya
Vice president/head of brand marketing, Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts
The oldest millennial will be 80 years in another 45 years. Will the world be covered with war, making travel impossible? Or will it be a super peaceful place which will allow everyone to embrace the development of technology for travelling? Your guess is good as mine!
Mieke De Schepper
Executive vice president, online travel companies and managing director Asia-Pacific, Amadeus
As a traveller, I long for the day that travel is truly personalised – hours saved searching, queueing and sifting through different documents. Thankfully, it’s not too far away. Increasingly, travellers want a personalised experience.
Therefore, companies that want to succeed must anticipate these needs, understand previous challenges, and proactively address these challenges using data, analytics and business intelligence.
14. Felix Loh
CEO, Gardens by the Bay
A new generation of travellers expects companies to demonstrate their commitment toward the environment. Sustainability beyond financial numbers should be embraced as a way of doing business – the future of the travel sector lies in companies making decisions that result in environmental and social benefits.
15. Musa Yusof
Director-general, Tourism Malaysia
Greater cooperation among industry players is vital for growth of our tourism industry and to stay ahead of competition. We hope to maximise integrated marketing and promotion campaigns with other government agencies, and to have smart partnerships with more international airlines and the private sector.
16. Dean Schreiber
Managing director, Asia-Pacific, Oakwood
Smart home technology is increasingly being integrated into the way of people’s lives at home.
As a natural extension, incorporating smart home technology into our future residences will definitely be the way forward. And when we layer on the personal touches, such as having your favourite Netflix programmes or the resident butler coming around with a turn-down of your usual nightcap, this vision to customise the in-room guest experience becomes encompassing, because we know that every apartment is unique to the guest and not just a cookie-cutter of brand standards.
17. Peter Kerkar
Group CEO, Cox & Kings
What excites me about the future is that people have understood there is a need to preserve the environment and travel responsibly, and this has led to an increase in sustainable tourism.
As well, the talk of technology playing an empowering role in customer satisfaction will mean greater understanding of customer needs as the industry seeks to provide travellers a seamless experience.
18. Agustinus Pake Seko
President director, Bayu Buana Travel Services
Travelling to space and diving in the deep sea will be affordable and available to the masses. Flying hours between continents will be much shorter. There will be no more brochures as all information will be available using virtual reality. Digital applications will be how we book and pay for travel, and we may not be using devices but have apps installed in our bodies!
19. Thatcher Brown
President, Dream Cruises
I get excited that the way we interact with the world is evolving so quickly. The rapid advances in artificial intelligence and data science is mind-boggling. This requires us to constantly redesign our offerings to be more relevant and thoughtful. Delivering a better experience through new technologies and connecting people in memorable, meaningful ways inspires.
20. Jenni Martin
Head of South and South-east Asia, Air New Zealand
Technology will continue to be a huge driving force behind the travel industry. Sustainability will also be a major focus as consumers become increasingly environmentally and socially conscious, and expect companies to play their part.
21. Mahesh Iyer
CEO, Thomas Cook India
Today’s travellers – especially the millennials – want to experience the world in a way that none of the previous generations have before.
With the growing appetite for diverse experiences, my hope is to see “responsible tourism” coming to the fore both across individuals and organisations. As leaders, we have a clear responsibility to ensure tourism’s rich and vibrant heritage and legacy is passed on to future generations. Hence, care and empathy for our planet and its diverse ecosystem is mission critical.
22. Jennifer Cronin
President, Wharf Hotels
We should celebrate the pride and joy in our future hoteliers in their role as facilitators to connect and protect our global village.
Our service should not be just to the guest but to our community and a sustainable future. Sharing and enabling our guest travel experiences where they are able to explore and immerse in a myriad of cultures, so as to create a greater awareness and understanding of each other. At the same time, our global citizens must demand and commit to sustainable travel practices, so that together we can all make a positive difference.
23. Arthur Kiong
CEO, Far East Hospitality
Technology has enhanced the travel experience and will continue to in the next 45 years. Trains, planes and ships will still exist, except they will travel faster, further and cleaner. Immigration queues at airports will remain except they are not checking for liquids but scanning data to analyse travellers’ intentions and behaviours.
However, the fundamental element of the travel industry – the human touch – will remain irreplaceable, even 45 years later. As human beings, we will still appreciate being recognised by name, and being treated with kindness and compassion by another human being.
24. Ho Kwon Ping
Executive chairman, Banyan Tree Holdings
What is most exciting about the future is a long-term, sustainable trend towards what I call ‘rainbow tourism’, where people of all races, religions, languages and income levels will be travelling in numbers never thought conceivable. The hunger for new places, experiencing new cultures, food and lifestyles, and the beauty of an unspoilt world will only grow. The talents working in this industry will also no longer have gender or racial biases.
25. Michael Issenberg
CEO Asia-Pacific, Accor
I would like to see the opening up of borders that would make it easier for people to travel internationally. Opening up borders, of course, means we have to be more mindful of security, but new technologies such as biometric identification, facial recognition software and big data are making it easier to reduce administrative barriers and share information across countries.
As millions of people in Asia reach middle-class status and look to explore the world, more liberal visa entry and investments in airports and infrastructure will ensure further growth in the tourism industry.
26. Jane Sun
I am excited for the future because the potential in travel is endless, and I truly believe travel is the key to invigorating mutual understanding, peace and prosperity. The future will bring many technological advancements – at Ctrip we are focused on AI, big data and cloud computing. I believe that travel is key to mutual growth in the world and we can contribute using these various technologies.
27. Angie Stephen
Managing director for Asia-Pacific, Royal Caribbean Cruises
Cruising is one of the fastest growing sectors in travel, and I expect the upward trend to continue as we see smart ships, equipped with innovative features, easily rival even the finest land-based counterparts.
Sustainability of travel will continue to dominate conversations, especially with the proliferation of larger ships. Royal Caribbean has a range of initiatives to ensure that our ships operate in the most environmentally sustainable way, from the introduction of liquefied natural gas on our Icon Class ships to using advanced emissions purification systems.
28. Mary Wan Mering
Director corporate services, Sarawak Tourism Board
The payments industry is rapidly transforming and impacting travel. With improved technology, the payment choices have expanded to include options like MobilePay and PayPal, and many more options will come. It is just a matter of time before acceptance rates improve in all markets and the use of these new payment methods will not be limited to one’s financial status.
29. Mark Meehan
Managing director, Asia-Pacific, Middle East & Africa, Travelport
The rate of change in our industry is astonishing. I’m particularly excited about how technologies like cloud, blockchain, augmented reality and artificial intelligence, and channels like social media, will continue to transform the travel experience.
As we sit at the heart of the fourth industrial revolution, we see new examples of how advanced technologies are blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, and opening up powerful new possibilities capable of disrupting entire industries.
With the pace of change occurring at unprecedented levels, in 45 years I expect the way we buy, manage and experience travel to be almost unrecognisable from today.
30. Willem Niemeijer
Founder, Khiri and Yaana Ventures
I love that the travel industry is becoming a more responsible global citizen. The Phuket Hotel Association has banned plastic bottles from its properties; others no longer use plastic straws.
On the seas, Royal Caribbean Cruises has partnered WWF to reduce carbon emissions and support marine conservation. Increasingly, and rightly, certification by GSTC-approved environmental auditors such as Travelife, will become compulsory for DMCs and hotels serving European tour operators.
31. Keith Tan
Chief executive, Singapore Tourism Board
I would love for the industry to use data in a smarter way. Do attractions know who their key audience and visitors are? Or do hotels know the behaviours of their clients? We are not quite seeing that yet in Singapore, so we want to push this out more – the discipline of collecting and thinking hard about using data to make smarter business decisions.
Second, we want to promote a lot more sharing of insights across different parts of the tourism sector in Singapore. Attractions should ask, “can we create a twin package with another attraction?” If more attractions share insights, maybe they can create more interesting and value-added packages for visitors.
32. Douglas Martell
President & CEO, Onyx Hospitality Group
We are excited about the next few years with a lot of innovation coming up in the industry. We need to look at opportunities for personalisation which is key.
As guests become more environmentally conscious, a big part of our focus is to make sure we too become more environmentally conscious. Hotel spaces are evolving as well. Guests want to see softer designs that bring the outdoors in. While at the hotel, they want to work in a more relaxed environment, with communal workspaces provided.
33. Song Hoi-see
Founder and CEO, Plaza Premium Group
As modern travellers’ expectations of airports continue to rise, airport experiences will increasingly be digitised. Technological advancements will provide instant access to everything travellers need. As air travel skyrockets in the next 45 years, mega air hubs and transit travel will continue to grow. Airports will become mini cities and destinations themselves. Sustainability is the future; the health and well-being of travellers and our planet will be at the heart of what we create.
34. KL Tan
President, The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents
In the next 45 years, the transportation system will be much more advanced and convenient.Travel between countries will be seamless, on time, comfortable, cheap and scenic. Driverless vehicles will be the norm with electric vehicles replacing conventional cars, while air travel will become much cheaper and quicker.
Tourists will also be much more passionate about environmental concerns and sustainability issues, and will want
to travel in a more responsible manner.
35. Olivier Berrivin
Managing director, International Operations-Asia, Best Western
The medical tourism sector has strong potential for mixed-use hotels. Global demand is shifting due to an ageing population with spending power. Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore are seeing increasing numbers of medical tourists, with growth rates of up to 14 per cent year-on-year.
Marketing strategies can be created to combine medical services with other local activities and attractive family leisure packages. Senior and assisted-living facilities will play an important role in promoting the sector, particularly in Thailand, which doesn’t yet have the infrastructure to cope with such demand.
36. Calvin Ho
Senior general manager, Sunway Theme Parks
Travel will be very different. Air travel will be faster, cheaper and more comfortable. Transportation will not be dependent on fossil fuel but be more “green”. Young people will go on holidays to broaden their minds and have fun at the same time. They will be more environmentally and community conscious. They will want to be associated with something good at the destination and partake in projects that can make a positive impact in the local communities. Travellers will want to travel to destinations that are green and environmentally sustainable.
37. Markland Blaiklock
Deputy CEO, Centara Hotels & Resorts
These significant trends will shape our business. First, travel and work life will be inseparable.
Second, robotics and artificial intelligence will impact every industry. Travellers will continue to demand a seamless and personalised experience from check-in to check-out. I envision the connected-hotel experience rooted in the Internet of Things. The future of hospitality will be an ecosystem of seamlessly integrated, digitally-connected products that are personalised and aimed at delivering emotional experiences. Connected technology and wearable devices will allow hotel staff to collaborate, operate and multi-task in real time.
Finally, delivering an emotional experience will be the ultimate goal of hotels. Even though technology plays a big part in our lives, guests will search for authenticity and human interaction.
38. Larry Lo
CEO, Asia, Westminster Travel
The travel industry has evolved with technology. Information search and travel bookings are done through travel apps and price comparison websites with highly transparent information. This can be a challenge for the travel agent sector since personal service may be diminished. But we believe human interaction and innovative technology can co-exist and evolve together in the travel sector.
39. Steve Odell
Senior vice president and managing director Asia-Pacific, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings
The environmental footprint of cruise lines is something we are very conscious of are adapting to everyday. It’s the biggest responsibility and biggest challenge at the same time.
Alongside that is overtourism. How can we be friendly operators in a world that is getting more crowded? We’re looking at how we do not crowd the same places tourists are going, and do things differently.
40. Ohn Maung
Minister of hotels and tourism, Myanmar
Although Myanmar Tourism Industry has had a remarkable achievement developing all regions in Myanmar, we need sustainable tourism development to protect our natural and cultural treasures.
The introduction of e-marketing has almost instantly has changed our industry. We should now focus on the actual travel experience, look for opportunities for local communities to earn tourism income year-round, and foster mutual understanding of different cultures.
41. Jaime Bautista
COO and president, Philippine Airlines
We need a revolution in airport infrastructure. The global shortage of airport slots and runway capacity, affecting key airports in important markets, will impede airline growth and air travel.
I believe airlines have made great progress in building networks and innovating services, but to win the future, we need more runways, more terminals and more efficient airport infrastructure.
42. Luis Riu
CEO, Riu Hotels & Resorts
Riu has been in the business for over 65 years and in this time, there have been major changes in the way guests gather and share information, book and experience a destination. We have always made an effort to learn from our clients and be ahead of their wishes and needs. It is always a great challenge but also very gratifying as you can see in the face of your guests if you’ve taken the right decisions.
43. Cinn Tan,
Chief sales & marketing officer, Pan Pacific Hotels Group
The future will be characterised by highly-personalised and streamlined travel experiences powered by artificial intelligence, which will become an indispensable tool for travel. Machine learning will transform the modern traveller experience, as technology interacts with guests throughout the entire customer journey. More travellers will welcome sustainability efforts in the future and actively seek out experiences that resonate with their personal values.
44. Angeline Tang
Regional director – leisure travel & partnerships Asia, Avis Budget Group
Mobility is going through an exciting shift right now, as consumers want more on-demand services. In 45 years, I predict only sustainable vehicles on the road. Fully connected, cleaner and more intuitive mobility will enable leisure and business travellers complete control across multiple modes of transport – perhaps from a self-driving pod to a flying car.
45. Johanes Widjaja
President director, Santika Indonesia Hotels and Resorts
We are excited about the improvement in the national infrastructure. In Jakarta alone, mass rapid trains are operating, improving mobility for residents. Other project such as the Trans Java Highway, Trans-Sulawesi Highway and Trans-Sumatra Highway are also in progress, and these infrastructure developments enable travellers to reach new and exotic destinations across the country.