Since 2002, the state of online travel in the Asia-Pacific region has seen significant growth. This can be measured in comparison to the U.S. market, which, at the time, was earning a total of US$28 billion—about six times the value of APAC’s. During the same period, only Japan, Australia, and New Zealand were looked at as the developed countries with the most potential. Times have changed, however, and Asia has become the most competitive online travel market 15 years later.
While Europe stills ranks first on the highest online travel penetration, Asia-Pacific doesn’t fall too far behind. In fact, the online sales of the emerging market is predicted to grow 61 percent in the course of three years by 2017. The spending capacity of travellers from the region is projected at US$216 billion this year, with variable shares in airline, hotel, and tour bookings. Such rapid growth can be attributed to the following influential factors:
- Rise in middle-class travellers with higher disposable income
China and India are said to be the two most lucrative markets in the Asia-Pacific region, and this comes as no surprise, what with the outbound tourism accounting for a large chunk of the entire population. In 2015, 120 million out of 1.4 billion Chinese citizens crossed borders, garnering total expenditures of US$104.5 billion. Meanwhile, 20.38 million out of 1.3 billion Indians journeyed abroad during the same year, with each traveller spending an estimate of US$28,000 per trip. The latter, which is the second most populous country in the world, is also the second fastest-growing outbound market next to China.
- Shift from traditional travel agents to online travel agencies
The online travel agencies in China are continuously rising, despite half of the population having no access to the Internet. Travel agencies, in general, have grown double from only 18,000 in 2006 to 36,000 in 2015. With 20 percent of the 120 million outbound travellers turning to online booking platforms, China’s tourism spending reached ¥600 billion or US$87 billion, which is 34 percent higher than the last and much greater compared to the earnings of traditional travel agents.
- Increasing use of mobile technology
Technological innovations have massively influenced the way people travel, thereby leading to the positive growth of the travel industry. Millennials, in particular, depend largely on their smartphones, especially on travel websites and social media pages, to plan their future trips. Younger millennials who access mobile sites and travel apps are said to spend 50 percent more time browsing through their phones. Ninety percent of business travellers, in the same way, own a smartphone or tablet, and thus manage their trips from such devices.