Intelligence Singapore, Hong Kong top APAC countries in desire to travel more By TTG Asia / Posted on 21 October, 2020 12:46 Travel remains fundamental for many, and has taken on an even greater meaning in our lives due to the pandemic, according to insights from Booking.com’s annual global survey, The Future of Travel. Booking.com has identified six predictions and trends for the year ahead, shining a light on the pandemic’s impact on travel habits and perspectives. In total, 20,934 respondents across 28 countries were polled globally. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand travellers most likely to seek out rural, off-the-beaten-track outdoor experiences among Asia-Pacific countries Wandermust Over half of (55%) Singapore travellers responded they won’t be comfortable travelling until an effective coronavirus vaccine or treatment is in place, echoing sentiments by Singapore’s transport minister, Ong Ye Kung, who recently stressed the importance of developing a widely available and effective vaccine to help countries open their borders. However, amid new waves of travel hiatuses, restrictions and continued uncertainty, our innate human desire to travel has not dampened. During recent lockdowns, two-thirds (63%) of Singapore travellers reported being excited about travelling again. Three-quarters (76%) also noted that they are especially appreciative of travel and wouldn’t take it for granted moving forward, vastly exceeding the global average of 61%. Our time at home has made us crave the world outside more than ever, with over half (53%) of Singapore respondents asserting a heightened desire to see even more of the world. Notably, Singapore (41%) and Hong Kong (55%) are among the top countries in Asia-Pacific with the most respondents who plan to travel more in the future to make up for lost time in 2020, and this could be due to how both markets have traditionally been more reliant on international travel, given their small size and well-connected geographical location as key aviation hubs for the region. With this, travel companies should get creative in 2021 with new itineraries and recommendations designed to capture the imaginations of travellers who missed out on trips in 2020, making their next trip more memorable and meaningful. Vital Value The economic impact of the coronavirus will inevitably see people demand more value for their bookings in the future. Seventy per cent of Singapore travellers will be more price-conscious when it comes to planning a trip in the future, above the global average of 62%. Fifty-nine per cent of Singaporeans are also more likely to hunt down promotions and savings – behaviours that Booking.com predicts will last years. But the value Singapore consumers expect will go beyond price tags, with three-quarters (76%) stating they want travel booking platforms to increase their transparency about cancellation policies, refund processes and trip insurance options. Furthermore, 53% of Singapore respondents consider refundable accommodation a must-have for their next trip, exceeding the global average of 46%. Singapore travellers (42%) also value the flexibility to change dates without being charged, more than any other country in the Asia-Pacific region. While value is crucial, Singapore travellers are also keen to support the industry in its recovery (71%), and most South-east Asian nations exceed the global average in this regard. Thailand travellers overwhelmingly (82%) want to see how their money is going back into the local economy, exceeding the global average of 55%, and they are especially keen to support their travel destinations’ recovery efforts (84%). As the “Land of Smiles” has long been a popular destination among travellers, and now severely impacted by the lack of tourists in 2020, this may be a reason for their desire to contribute to the local economy and recovery efforts in future travel. Overall, the industry will need to come together to respond inventively to offer deeper value, better choices, increased flexibility and transparency, as well as more thoughtful experiences for tomorrow’s travellers as they scrutinise spend in 2021 and beyond. Safety Cleans Up Echoing global trends, safety will be at the forefront of travellers’ minds moving forward, with 82% of Singapore travellers stating they will take more precautions when travelling in the future due to the coronavirus, slightly exceeding the global average of 79%. Governments, travel associations and providers will have to work cohesively to set consistent standards to help keep travellers safe, and with expectations heightened, some destinations and businesses will need to work harder to regain travellers’ trust. Sixty-two per cent of Singapore travellers will avoid certain destinations, and 73% expect tourist attractions to adapt to allow for social distancing. At the same time, 73% will only book a particular accommodation if it’s clear what health and hygiene policies it has in place, with three quarters (75%) favouring accommodations that have antibacterial and sanitising products. In the short-term, there will also be a change in transport preference and provisions, with almost half of global respondents (46%) opting to avoid public transport for fear of contracting the coronavirus. Contrasting global trends, only 18% of Singapore travellers surveyed will avoid public transport for fear of contracting the coronavirus. This reflects a degree of trust and safety that Singaporeans have in public infrastructure, as Singapore continues to handle the pandemic well, with the country’s fatality rate being one of the lowest in the world and new infections in the community kept down. The ‘new normal’ will also see travellers prioritise and adhere to increased health and safety measures, with many becoming second nature sooner than we think. Just as we have become accustomed to travelling without liquids in our carry-on luggage and removing shoes to go through airport security, more than two-thirds of Singapore respondents (69%) will accept travelling to destinations that have health spot checks on arrival and 64% will accept wearing a mask in public. However, quarantine measures still remain the biggest deterrent, with far fewer (30%) Singapore travellers willing to accept these in order to travel to a particular destination. Impact Awakening With nearly half (47%) of Singapore travellers wanting to travel more sustainably in the future, we expect to see a more eco-conscious mindset in 2021 and beyond, as the coronavirus has amped people’s awareness about their impact on the environment and local communities. More than two-thirds (73%) expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options and travellers will consequently visit alternative destinations in a bid to avoid travelling during peak season (59%) and overcrowding (50%). Some 67% will also stay away from crowded tourist attractions, indicating that destinations will need to adopt new, smart crowd management measures to appease travellers visiting their country. Furthermore, more Singapore travellers (47%) said they wanted to travel more sustainably, than those who noted they wanted to travel more in the future to make up for lost time (41%). Travellers in Thailand (68%) and Vietnam (59%) echoed the same sentiment, exceeding the global average of 53%. Singapore travellers believe that the industry must adapt to this sustainable mindset for the long-term by offering attractive off-season travel packages (51%) and proposing alternative destinations to prevent overcrowding (38%). However, although most South-east Asia respondents noted the impact of Covid-19 had inspired them to consider reducing waste and/or recycling their plastic when travelling, they are still less willing to pay for carbon offsetting or avoid a destination because travelling there would be environmentally taxing. Bye Bye 9-to-5 Working remotely has irreversibly entered the mainstream during the pandemic with the knock-on effect that people will look to take longer trips in the future that more effectively combine work and pleasure. No longer confined to five days a week in an office and desperate for a change of scene from home, we’ll see a significant rise in the “Workcation”, with travellers looking to extend their vacation experience in new locales by staying an extra week or two to work remotely – or conversely factoring holiday around a stint of remote working. Expect laptops to become even more of a mainstay in luggage than ever before. Half (50%) of Singapore travellers have already considered booking somewhere to stay in order to work from a different destination, exceeding the global average of 37%. This comes as little surprise as Singapore workers are known to be among the hardest-working in the world, according to the number of hours clocked. Some 40% would also be willing to travel to a destination that forces them to self-isolate on arrival if they can work remotely while in quarantine. While companies will undoubtedly reassess their approach to business travel in the future, workers will continue to maximise the trips they do take, with over half of Singapore travellers (59%) saying they would take the opportunity to extend any business trips to also enjoy leisure time at the destination. In contrast, Japan travellers are the least likely (29%) in the world to do so, and well below the global average of 52%. Overall trends highlight a need for travel platforms and accommodations to prioritise showcasing home office facilities and Wi-Fi speed in an attempt to attract this new wave of digital nomads. Likewise, the world of corporate travel will see increasing demand for privacy, cleanliness and longer stays among those travelling for business, requiring alternative accommodations to seriously up their ‘work-friendly’ game. Simple Pleasures As we learn to live with the stressful consequences of the pandemic, travellers will be keen to embrace a new and stripped-back way of experiencing the world. So much time spent in our own homes with our loved ones has given birth to adjusted priorities and a desire to enjoy more of our natural resources. Use of simple pleasure-related endorsements such as hiking (94%), clean air (50%), nature (44%) and relaxation (33%) on Booking.com have increased globally since the start of the pandemic, while research shows that over two-thirds of Singapore travellers (71%) will look to appreciate more simple experiences such as spending time outdoors or with the family while on vacation. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand travellers are the most likely to seek out more rural, off-the-beaten-track experiences to immerse themselves in the outdoors than any other Asia-Pacific country, as well as the UK and the US. Relaxing trips will also be high on the travel agenda in the ‘new normal’, with more than half of global respondents (51%) saying it was their preferred type of trip, followed by beach breaks (40%) and city trips (29%).