Amid a challenging international travel climate, Asians are showing a greater confidence to travel in the “new normal”, with Indian and Thai citizens showing the greatest eagerness to resume travelling, according to a global research by social research agency Blackbox Research, data provider Dynata and language partner Language Connect.
The Unravel Travel: Fear & Possibilities in a Post Coronavirus (Covid-19) World survey examines the sentiments, preferences, and expectations of 10,195 people across 17 countries regarding travel in a post-Covid-19 world.
As part of the study, countries are measured on a Travel Confidence Score, by considering two indicators – how comfortable a person is to travel internationally in the next 12 months, and how well prepared they feel about their country re-opening its tourism and leisure activities.
Along with India and Thailand (tied in top place with a score of 76), a handful of Asian countries including China (69), Indonesia (65) and Singapore (64) also ranked above the global average of 61.
Conversely, Japan rated the most cautious with a score of 40, followed by the Philippines (43) and Hong Kong (50). Outside Asia Pacific, countries that scored below the global average included Sweden, New Zealand, UK, Canada, and USA.
Commenting on the strong optimism of Asian travellers as compared to their Western counterparts, CEO of Blackbox Research, Saurabh Sardana, said: "With a significant part of Asia having experienced similar epidemics, it is not surprising that Asian travellers would be more resilient and optimistic about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
“When it comes to navigating travel in the new normal, we foresee people living in Asia will have the highest pent-up demand for travel, but tourism boards and the travel sector need to re-evaluate and reimagine their whole approach towards future travel experiences in order to be sustainable in the future," he added.
Regional travel first to recover?
Delving deeper into the findings, respondents from Japan (32%), the Philippines (42%), New Zealand (43%) and Australia (52%) showed the least enthusiasm for long-haul trips.
That said, the study also revealed emerging regional travel trends with Australia and Japan identified as the top most popular destinations for Asian travellers.
On a global scale, the countries whose tourism appeal have taken the biggest hit during the pandemic include China, the US and Italy.
Sardana noted: “The travel sentiment to countries like US and China also gets severely impacted by key events such as Black Lives Matter protests, foreign worker visa freeze, and Beijing’s second wave of infections. This has a compounding effect which inevitably has taken a toll on their international standing as a tourism destination.”
Making safety a priority in travel
The travel industry needs to ensure that safety is a priority – if they were to win over future travellers. In the survey, 80% of travellers responded that they are willing to pay more for safer accommodation, while 74% are open to a higher premium for travel insurance in exchange for protection against pandemics.
Contactless travel will be the new benchmark, with 76% of respondents indicating that their preferred travel destinations will be countries that offer more reliable contactless experiences.
Specifically, e-boarding passes (44%), touchless lavatories (43%), contactless journeys from airports to hotels (40%), no more middle seats in transportation (36%), and digital health passports (35%) are some of the new ideas that global travellers hope to see implemented in the near future.