Is Southeast Asia Ready for Indian and European Travel Markets After Covid?
Europe and the UK are easing travel and social restrictions as summer approaches and people are venturing abroad. Meanwhile, many parts of Asia are grappling with a resurgence in infections and deaths linked to Covid-19. When the virulent strains decrease and the masses are vaccinated, will European and Indian tourists return to the countries of Southeast Asia? Also, will South Asian travelers be welcome?
- Travel expenses for leisure and VFR travelers after pandemic could be affected due to declining income
- The receptivity of Southeast Asian countries may influence the willingness of Indian tourists to travel abroad
- Southeast Asia’s rural and natural offerings have the potential to attract European remote workers and special interest travelers
Europe and the UK are easing travel and social restrictions as summer approaches and people are venturing abroad. Meanwhile, many parts of Asia are grappling with a resurgence of infections and deaths linked to Covid-19. When the virulent strains decrease and the masses are vaccinated, will European and Indian tourists return to the countries of Southeast Asia? Also, will South Asian travelers be welcome?
These questions were addressed by the ASEAN Tourism Research Association during a webinar on May 6. Two professors described the characteristics of their respective markets and new travel trends that can be exploited to attract tourists when the health situation stabilizes.
Toney K Thomas, Assistant Professor at Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala, spoke about middle class leisure tourists and those visiting friends and relatives. Pleasure travelers range from millennials to families and retirees.
“The level of spending is high compared to tourists from other countries,” he said. “However, incomes are expected to decline after the pandemic, with the middle class shrinking by 32 million people.” The national economic stimulus policy will have an impact on discretionary spending, such as travel abroad. Inbound Indian traffic to Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia accounted for nearly two million, 1.4 million and 600,000 visitors respectively in 2019.
Individual decision-making will also be influenced by âbelief in health,â Thomas noted. But it may be more important to monitor destination attitude and receptivity to Indian travelers. He said Covid-19 is unevenly distributed in India. However, much depends on the governments’ decision to âkeep the Indian marketâ.
âUltimately, how receptive are Southeast Asian countries to Indian tourists, given the current dire situation? There are perception issues. Thus, the confidence of the host market could be more important than the willingness of Indian tourists to go abroad, âhe concluded.
FrÃ©deric Bouchon, associate professor, Institut Paul Bocuse, cited characteristics such as the UK and Germany preference for package travel booked through tour operators, while French and Dutch tourists favor independent travel booked through OTAs. .
âThe pandemic has led to favoring travel safety and proximity. European tourists also favor unique travel experiences and authenticity, especially in non-traditional destinations where they can mingle with locals, âsaid Bouchon.
The Covid-19 has accelerated the trend towards slower tourism, allowing stressed city dwellers to reconnect with themselves, nature and a simpler way of life. Domestic rural tourism has exploded in many countries. Long-haul destinations can also benefit.
He added: âPeople favor authentic experiences in different cultural and natural encounters, such as local cuisine and bird watching. The rural supply of Southeast Asia fits well with this trend. Slow mode transportation and infrastructure are important, such as cycle paths, farms, and low density environments. “
Bouchon also proposed to tap into âdigital nomadism and workâ.
The remote working model offers the possibility of settling permanently or temporarily in sunnier or more affordable places. Those who are ready to relocate enjoy sunnier climates, while still maintaining a comfortable income. This has sparked great interest in destinations like Barbados and Madeira. Southeast Asian countries with a rural hinterland could target this segment.
âHowever, this presents challenges for the hospitality industry. The hotels will have to rethink the layout of the rooms, including the offices, and adjust their offer. Other considerations include immigration regulations, visa duration and income level, âBouchon said.
âNomads in the gig economy have high mobility patterns. Salaried employees are the new opportunity, with more stable incomes and residency for âworkâ – even longer periods of up to six months. This could benefit more remote locations, especially with longer term rentals: service apartments, condos and resorts, âhe added.
It remains to be seen whether the major cities of Southeast Asia and rural areas of Indochina and Brunei, for example, will be able to attract European workers and special interest travelers respectively, starting this winter.