Booking.com launched its inaugural APAC Travel Confidence Index, providing a snapshot of how confident consumers feel about exploring the world again, as well as whether they would welcome inbound travel. The commissioned research polled 11,000 travellers from 11 countries and territories across Asia and Oceania between April and May 2022, combining this with the company’s proprietary data and insights over the past 25 years.
The Travel Confidence Index explores the overall comfort levels, motivators and concerns of consumers across the Asia-Pacific and how this varies across the region. While there is a strong overall desire to travel more sustainably, the research also showed the more pragmatic considerations of travellers, such as cost and variety of sustainable stays, which impact whether sustainable intent ultimately translates into action.
As Asia starts to emerge from several years of strict border closures and lockdowns, the diversity in terms of consumer travel sentiment and confidence across the Asia-Pacific has certainly become more pronounced.
Travel confidence market ranking
Across the 11 markets polled, India emerged most confident with 86% of India travellers stating they intend to travel in the next 12 months; followed closely by Vietnam and China. South Korea, Taiwan and Japan ranked lower on the index in terms of overall confidence, although travel intent among respondents remained above 60%.
The research indicates that Indian, Vietnamese and Chinese respondents were most willing to put up with and/or overlook key travel deterrents in order to travel, such as enduring disruptions and travel costs; as well as confidence with their home countries/territories in receiving inbound travellers. However, 82% of Japanese respondents expressed uncertainty with their country’s preparedness to safely receive international travellers and border reopening (75%).
Singapore ranked sixth on the Travel Confidence Index despite having some of the most eased border restrictions in comparison to many markets across the region. Key factors that impacted Singapore’s standing in the index included general aversion towards any disruptions to their travel (65%), sharing personal information for public health and safety (57%) and personalisation (45%).
When it came to looking at how far Singaporeans would travel, 69% of respondents stated that they planned to take trips (of up to eight hours’ flight) to popular holiday destinations closer to home, such as Thailand and Indonesia.
Top travel motivators
The desire to travel remains strong among Asia-Pacific travellers overall, with ease of planning and booking travel as well as cost being the top two considerations. Both ranked consistently high across all markets, even as restrictions continue to ease around the region.
The desire to “just get away” (46%) also emerged as the top motivator to travel for Asia-Pacific consumers after two years of lockdowns and a rapidly evolving travel landscape; followed closely by a “getaway to recharge mentally” for 36% of respondents. In fact, for Thailand, such retreats were the prime motivator for an overwhelming 76% of respondents, a percentage far higher than any other market.
Across the region, only 13% indicated that work was a reason for them to book a trip, despite many employees having returned to the office across the Asia-Pacific, which could bode a slower revitalisation in corporate vs leisure travel. In fact, for Australia, work was the least common reason for travel at 6%.
Top travel deterrents
The uncertainty due to the constantly evolving Covid-19 situation is evident among travellers, who shared their top concerns and what would prevent them from booking a trip. “Travel cost” was listed as the number one deterrent by 38% of all respondents. This was followed by the “fear of having to undergo quarantine” (37%) and the “possibility of getting stuck because of frequently changing border regulations” (37%).
Top concerns for several destinations varied quite significantly. In Singapore, China and Hong Kong, the top concern was the possibility of getting stuck at the destination because of new border regulations (61%, 53%, 55% respectively), while in Japan the top concern of 47% of respondents was falling ill while travelling.
When asked whether travellers accepted disruptions as being part and parcel of travel now, 47% of Japanese and 32% of South Korean respondents said no – the only two markets to do so.
Sustainable travel remains important
According to Booking.com’s 2022 Sustainable Travel Report, 81% of global travellers affirm that sustainable travel is important to them, with 50% stating that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make more sustainable travel choices.
India once again topped the index in terms of intent to travel sustainably, with 93% of respondents agreeing on the importance of making sustainable travel decisions.
On the other hand, for travellers from Australia, New Zealand and Japan, cost and a wide variety of sustainable stay options are core considerations when it comes to making sustainable travel decisions. Singapore showed a strong belief in the need to prioritise sustainable travel, with 77% of respondents indicating its importance.
However, the Travel Confidence Index found that for the Singaporean traveller, a combination of having a variety of sustainable options conveniently accessible at a good price point, together with sustainability measures undertaken by properties transparently displayed would go far in empowering them to make sustainable travel decisions.
Staycations look set to stay for Singaporeans
Staycations as an escape from daily life look to become part of the permanent vacation roster with 36% of Singapore respondents indicating that they would continue to book staycations for events such as family trips (46%), milestone celebrations (38%) or even as part of their self-care regimen (23%).
Cruises, however, look set to sail into the sunset with just 9% of respondents indicating that they would book one as their next trip, potentially hinting at the desire for Singaporeans to take flight and rediscover both new and old destinations.
With the country slowly shifting toward endemic living with Covid-19, Singaporeans look determined to make up for lost time and are ready to do their part to care for the places they visit.