OUT NOW: ‘Stepping Out of the Crowd’ – Where the Next Generation of Asian Millennials is Heading

Stepping Out of the Crowd (PATA, 2016)

Winning a place on the travel itinerary of time-poor but experience-hungry generation of travellers from Asia’s emerging outbound markets will require clever marketing and well thought-out experiences that help them to quickly connect with local people and their traditions. When it comes to exploring new destinations, quick access to new foods, cultural immersion and local youth culture make a strong draw for Asian Millennials to ‘step out of the crowd’ and go off the beaten track.

These are just a few of the conclusions from a comprehensive new report just released by the Pacific Asia Travel Association in partnership with Visa Worldwide and Toposophy.Stepping Out of the Crowd (PATA, 2016)

Encouraging visitors to leave crowded hotspots and go in search of more enriching experiences has never been more important for destinations looking to capitalise on the rising tide of visitors from Asia’s emerging outbound markets. However putting this into practice is not so simple, especially when first-time visitors might not even know what else is available in the local area.

Finding ways to deal with crowds and helping visitors to explore further by themselves is putting destination management organisations (DMOs) seriously to the test. It requires a high degree of coordination with a range of stakeholders, the ability to develop an attractive product in new destinations and put in place the infrastructure to help visitors to get there and stay for a while. Following this, DMOs have to use their creative flair to raise awareness of alternative options, and then give people compelling reasons to visit.

Stepping Out of the Crowd is the second in PATA’s series of youth travel reports, and follows The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller which I authored in 2014. This new report covers the whole range of complex questions related to Asian Millennial traveller trends and tourism dispersal in a 150-page report that draws on unique consumer research carried out among 13 Asian outbound markets, expert opinion, case studies from leading travel brands and data from PATA’s own forecasts on cross-border travel. It also gives practical recommendations on where to start when putting a dispersal strategy in place.

Main features of the report:

  • Unique consumer research from Millennials in 13 outbound markets across Asia on their attitudes towards trip planning, city visits and going ‘off the beaten track’.
  • Data from the PATA five-year forecast to show how international arrival arrivals will affect APAC destinations in the coming years
  • Data and opinion from 14 market-leading tourism organisations, travel brands and influencers (including VisitBritain, NBTC Holland Marketing, Eurail Group and Discover Los Angeles) on how to set out an effective dispersal strategy.
  • Recommendations to public and private sector organisations on how to create more effective and rewarding products that encourage dispersal for Asian Millennial travellers.

How to get the report:

Full report – PATA Store (free for PATA members, US$100 for non-members)

Executive Summary (free download)

The project research for it was generously sponsored by Visa Worldwide and since TOPOSOPHY was the project’s research partner, my talented colleagues supported me with their inputs too, for which I am extremely grateful.

The bigger picture

Working on this groundbreaking project has taught me how the best DMOs are already hard at work to encourage dispersal, and to spread visitor spending as widely as possible – even in developing countries which find it hard to meet the needs of local residents, let alone demanding visitors. Yet in the end, dispersal is everyone’s business, as I explain in my recent TOPOSOPHY blog post.

This project has also shown in a variety of ways how much harder the tourism sector globally needs to work on this question. As far as tourism arrivals from Asia to Europe go, we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. Other regions of the world are emerging rapidly as key outbound markets, on top of all those travellers from advanced economies who travel several times per year with the same big attractions on their bucket lists.

I hope that this report will help tourism boards and travel brands of all kinds to kick-start their approach to making tourism dispersal work for all, before it’s too late.


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Some Millennials will be driving tourism growth faster than others


Last week I visited Manila to do a keynote presentation at MICECON, the Philippines’ national tourism conference. Here’s the post I wrote for Toposophy on how the future of Filipino tourism lies with Millennials, from both home and overseas. To see the original post and find out more about Toposophy, please click here.

_ _ _

Think back to your geography classes at school and you may remember studying population pyramids, those diagrams used to show the relative size of different gender and age groups in any given country. Take a look at the population pyramid for most countries in Western Europe and you’ll see a ‘Y’ shape, with a relatively large number of older age groups (the baby boomers), and a comparatively reduced population among the younger age groups. Now go and check out the population pyramids for nations in Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia, Vietnam or the Philippines. You’ll find a cone in the shape of a Thai palace: very heavy at the bottom (with a booming youth population) and very thin towards the top.

Last week I was in Manila to give a presentation at the opening session of MICECON, the national Presenting at MICECON Manilatourism conference of the Philippines. During the few days I was in the country, I was able to see first-hand how young the country is, with millions of children, teenagers and young adults streaming around Manila’s busy streets and malls. The Philippines is a collection of over 7,000 islands that lies in the Pacific, south of Taiwan and north of Indonesia. It’s had a rocky history, variously governed in the past three centuries by Spain, the US and occupying Japanese forces. During the late 20th the country was run by a General Marcos (remember his wife Imelda’s famed collection of shoes?) and has long suffered as one of the poorer Asian nations.

Today however, the country is both generating and benefiting from the wider economic boom in Asia. English is widely spoken by Filipinos, who go for coveted jobs at the country’s growing number of outsourced-call centres. The Asian Development Bank forecasts GDP growth of 6.4% in 2015 and international arrivals in 2014 reached nearly 5 million with the government aiming for strong growth in the coming years. Domestic travel is extremely important since Filipinos largely seek to explore their own country before heading for trips abroad, and there is still much more room for growth among a population which totals over 100 million.

A youthful country preparing for strong growth in the future

Aware that the country’s tourism fortunes will increasingly rest on the Millennial generation from Asia and further afield, the Philippines Department of Tourism invited me to speak at the opening of MICECON, the Filipino national tourism conference to share some insights into the Millennials market, in particular those travelling from other Asian countries. As you may know, Toposphy is already working with the Pacific Asia Travel Association to study the way Asian Millennials travel, in an exciting project called ‘Stepping Out of the Crowd’, and we hope to add this to our insights in the months to come.

At MICECON, it turned out that ‘Millennials’ was the word of the day as the audience in every session asked plenty of questions on this subject. The Filipino travel industry is especially interested in younger travellers, and the reason starts at home. Young Filipinos grow up knowing that their country is a diverse and exciting place to explore, and they usually set out to do just that before heading overseas. Whether it’s for upgrading the country’s supply of accommodation or understanding how to make the most of the boom in Korean students coming to study English (estimates show that nearly 70% of Filipinos are fluent in English), delegates from hotel groups, tour operators and airlines expressed a strong desire to learn more about the Millennial mind-set and apply lessons to their own businesses.

The Philippines today has some strong competitors for many of its products and to some extent, its fragmented nature and distance from mature outbound markets such as the US, Canada and Europe are a disadvantage. The government has also recognised that transport infrastructure is lacking too, but is working hard to overcome these challenges. The country certainly has some outstanding assets, including beaches that match the best of the Caribbean, amazing diving opportunities, beautiful rice terraces, and some well-preserved UNESCO recognised heritage from the 300-year long Spanish era.

Micecon_FlowerGroupStill, in my opinion it’s the people who will truly place the Philippines at a competitive advantage in the years to come. Before arriving in the country I was familiar with the country’s slogan ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ though I must admit I thought it was a cheesy slogan just like any other. A visit to 3 cities in five days taught me that this slogan really is the best possible description for what you’ll find there! Fiestas in the street, a love of karaoke, friendly neighbourhood barbecues, articulate guides and warm-hearted generosity seemed in abundance. Even the conferences are more fun, with MICECON proving that tourism conferences don’t always have to be stuffy, formal affairs for the industry of fun and enjoyment. At this year’s event, delegates happily dressed by the theme ‘Flower Power’ and danced their way through the conference lunch!

Given that competition is so tough from neighbouring countries, it’s promising that the Filipino government and the wider industry have recognised that they need to start building up their knowledge about Millennials in order to design the right products and marketing messaging for the near future. MICECON was a great first step to doing this.

Toposophy will be there to support them on this journey as they seek more creative ways to engage with Millennials in the future.

Los millenniales orientales: Un gran reto para los destinos turísticos

Millennials asiáticos

Millennials asiáticosEn Asia los cambios económicos y sociales han beneficiado sobre todo a la generación joven (los millennials) y les han ofrecido múltiples oportunidades para viajar fuera de sus países. De ahí el interés de destinos y empresas turísticos en todo el mundo en conocer de cerca la mentalidad del joven consumidor asiático, y su actitud hacia los viajes.

A pesar de ser el tercer país más visitado del mundo según la OMT, para los 3,000 jóvenes viajeros asiáticos encuestados para el estudio The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller, publicado en agosto de 2014 por la Pacific Asia Travel Association, España se solo se encuentra en el puesto 11 en el ranking de destinos más deseados para visitar en los próximos años.

Como coordinador y redactor de este informe, tuve la oportunidad de contrastar mis experiencias con este mercado y mis propias conclusiones sobre los resultados del estudio con Hosteltur, la primera red de noticias del sector turístico español. El artículo completo se ha publicado en la edición de marzo 2015 de la revista (tanto en papel como online).

Tanto en la entrevista como en el informe en general, trato de subrayar la importancia de mirar más allá del mercado emisor chino (aunque, sin duda es y seguirá siendo el mercado emisor más importante del mundo), ya que otros países asiáticos adquirirán una gran importancia en la próxima década tanto por motivos demográficos como por la fuerte crecimiento económico que se espera de mercados como Indonesia o Filipinas, por ejemplo.

Puedes leer el informe ejecutivo del informe The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller (en inglés) o adquirir el informe completo  a través de la Pacific Asia Travel Association.

Puedes encontrar información sobre los millennials en inglés y en español en mi blog, o bien echar un vistazo a mi perfil.

Si tienes cualquier pregunta, puedes contactar conmigo a través de genctraveller[aroba]gmail[punto]com




“Now everyone can fly!” – Low Cost Carriers and Millennial Travellers in Asia


Low-cost carriers (LCCs) have soared to new heights thanks to booming demand from young Asian travellers looking to take their first break, joining the ranks of other young people who consider these exciting new brands as part of their lifestyle.

[From The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller, released in August 2014 by the Pacific Asia Travel Association, here’s an article I wrote to sum up why it is young people especially who are flocking to LCCs – a phenomenon that’s giving The Rise of the Young Asian Travellerthe traditional legacy carriers so much cause for concern. You can find out more about the report here.]

[Article starts]

Across the globe low-cost carriers have re-shaped the traditional airline business model and have significantly changed the competitive dynamics of the air transport industry. Consequently they are now the dominant force in most short-haul markets in Europe and Asia[i]. While in Europe, low-cost carriers (LCCs) became established in an already mature market, Asian low-cost airlines have grown thanks to the rise of the world’s most rapidly expanding middle class (a process described earlier in this report)[ii].

The result has been the creation of a range of markets that are ready to embark on inter-regional travel with fervour. With a model based principally on low fares, LCCs make air travel accessible to a whole new market. Besides, the region’s geography often means that air travel isn’t so much luxury as a necessity; despite the wide-ranging rail and road building initiated by governments across Asia, the offer of cheap, fast and flexible air travel has proved an irresistible temptation for business and leisure travellers alike.

Low cost airlines now account for more than half of all airline capacity in Southeast Asia, and in 2014, more than 10 new budget airline start-ups are expected across Asia[iii]. In the Philippines, LCC operations (international and domestic) account for as much as 61% of all airline capacity, while in Indonesia and Malaysia the figures are 53% and 48% respectively. LCC capacity is expected to increase even more dramatically in the next decade[iv].

Projected Growth of Southeast Asian LCCs in 2014 ranked by fleet size[v]

Rank Carrier LCC Group Fleet on 1 Jan 2014 Projected fleet on 31 Dec 2014
1 Lion Air Lion 94 105
2 AirAsia AirAsia 72 76
3 Cebu Pacific Air Independent 48 48
4 Thai AirAsia AirAsia 43 35
5 Wings Air Lion 34 27
6 Tigerair Tigerair 33 25
7 Citi Link (Garuda) 32 24
8 Indonesia AirAsia AirAsia 30 30
9 Nok Air Nok 26 22
10 Malindo Lion 23 11

Source: Capa Centre for Aviation

LCCs and the Asian Millennial traveller

With the Millennial market, the growth of LCCs appears to be self-perpetuating. Clearly LCCs have proved to be a hit in countries with large, young populations of first-time travellers. Attracted by low fares, flexible online booking options and a strong fresh-faced brand image, for many Asian Millennial travellers LCCs offer their first experience of flying, and of international travel. Figures suggest that the experience is becoming addictive. The following factors may help to explain why:

  • Low fares – As the name suggests, low-cost carriers cut out the non-essentials and pass these lower costs on to consumers in the form of lower ticket prices. Research has consistently shown that LCCs attract a younger traveller, often willing to compromise on ‘extras’ such as in-flight meals, greater cabin comfort or checked-in baggage in order to get a cheaper fare. Low fares can encourage young people to take the leap and make their first trip away from home with friends, or colleagues. The introduction of three low cost carriers in Japan in 2012 led to an overall annual growth in domestic traffic of 8.7% (an additional 2.6 million passengers) the highest seen for 20 years[vi]. Pricing is generally highly flexible with LCCs, allowing customers to pick and choose single leg journeys to suit their travel itinerary.
  • Web-based sales and travel management – The Malaysian carrier AirAsia, was the first airline in Asia to introduce online booking, payments and ticket-less travel. It was also the first carrier in the world to offer SMS booking. LCC’s heavy reliance on the internet for their full range of services (booking, checking in, bag tagging, meal reservation and more) with the demographic that spends most of their waking hours online. Put simply, the millennial generation, as the first generation that has grown up in the era of the internet is a generation that is extremely comfortable with making online purchases and using the tablet or smartphone as an essential travel companion. For consumers who don’t have ready access to the internet or means of paying online, LCCs have also found innovative ways of selling tickets through dedicated booths in shopping malls or post offices.
  • Convenience through dense network and friendly schedules – LCCs have worked hard to shape their schedule to passengers looking to take a weekend break or even travel for business. They have also worked to compete with ferry and rail routes offering faster travel times, increasingly to primary hub airports. Faster turn-around times for aircraft mean that more flights can be offered during the day. Furthermore, the expansion of the LCC route map, particularly in Southeast Asia, has been particularly impressive with airlines ‘discovering’ a whole host of secondary destinations.
  • Strong branding. Today flying with a LCC is not just about paying for a seat on an aircraft. LCCs are rapidly becoming lifestyle brands just like consumer electronics, food or drinks, or fashion labels, expressing personal taste and becoming a part of every-day consumption patterns. LCCs commonly use their brand in a clever, often cheeky way, presenting a youthful, fun image and of course engaging heavily with consumers where they are to be found most – on social media. In addition to offering flights, LCCs are rapidly extending their brand to a whole range of other services; insurance, hotel booking, online retail, even movie rental.
  • Brand loyalty is another question… Young consumers are famous for their tendency to switch brands quickly according to what is cheap and/or fashionable. As flag-carriers are quickly discovering, traditional loyalty programmes, considered the ‘cornerstone’ of consumer loyalty are going through upheaval[vii]. Increased transparency of frequent flyer programmes brought about by modern technology, and shifting preferences among travellers for finding, booking and taking advantage of awards while travelling make it harder and harder for legacy carriers in particular to engage with a demographic that is adept at finding special offers online and comparing products for perceived value in a matter of seconds. To a lesser extent LCCs are finding this too – though they are more able to compete on their key branding element of low prices.

Southeast Asia already has a high LCC penetration rate – the LCC capacity share of total seats is approximately 56% – but the percentage for North Asia is still low at 9%. This is mainly attributed to tight government regulation on air passenger transport which favours the established flag carriers in the region. Some commentators have also questioned whether travellers in Northeast Asia, used to high-end services offered by the established carriers will take so keenly to the no-frills approach favoured by low-cost airlines.

Where younger travellers are concerned, there is reason to expect rapid-take up of LCC seats when liberalisation takes hold and LCCs start-up. More affluent, aspirational travellers may still be attracted to fly with full service airlines, forcing these to differentiate themselves from the service offered by LCCs. The combination of flexible pricing, convenience and snappy branding that have attracted legions of young travellers from Southeast Asia to take to the skies for the first time however, will be a tough combination to beat.



[i] O’Connell J.F. & Williams, G. (2005) Passengers’ perceptions of low cost carriers and full service airlines, Tourism Management 27 (6).

[ii] PATA Visitor Economy Bulletin, February 2014 ‘ASEAN Tourism and Air Liberalisation – Really ready for takeoff?’

[iii] Wall Street Journal, ‘Budget airlines look to Taiwan, Hong Kong’ 16 Dec 2013 online

[iv] ASEAN Network Forum (2013) Lifting the Barriers Roundtable: Aviation

[v] Capa Centre for Aviation, ‘SEA low-cost airline fleet to expand by almost 20% in 2014’ (11 March 2014).

[vi] CNN online: Don’t laugh: Vanilla Air, Peach and other budget airlines mean business (3 Sept 2013).

[vii] Skift, The Reasons Why Travel Loyalty Programs are Going Through Upheaval (27 Feb 2014).

Getting ahead – why attracting students is a smart strategy for tourism growth

Getting ahead

[The following article was written by me and originally published from The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller, released earlier this year. See link below to obtain the full report]

Once considered the preserve of higher education institutions alone, the movement of students between countries to study for their undergraduate course, Master’s degree, PhD or even just a one-term language course has now become a mass movement. According to the OECD, between 2000-2011 the global population of internationally mobile students more than doubled from 2.1 million to nearly 4.5 million.

Asian students currently represent the largest ethnicity group (53%) studying abroad worldwide, and they are increasingly choosing to do so closer to home rather than study in the traditional market of the US or other native English-speaking countries. The volume of student travellers, and their considerable spending power, is thus giving rise to new partnerships between the education sector and destination management organizations across the Asia Pacific region.Getting ahead

Whether for school excursions, college field trips, student exchanges or higher education studies overseas, the opportunities for young people to travel through their educational programme is greater than it has ever been. Moreover, travelling for the purpose of study in a safe, planned and controlled environment offers the first taste of travel for many young Asians. This, combined with the fact that travelling before, during or after an overseas study programme often provides the opportunity for more prolonged periods of leisure travel overseas than would typically be culturally acceptable or possible back home (see the case of young Korean students and employees in chapter five), has made destination marketers take a new look at student travellers as a target market.

Changes in international student mobility: student travel to and within Asia

As a result of economic globalisation and heightening of governments’ awareness of the perceived links between education and economic competitiveness, a large number of governments have pumped billions of dollars into increasing the number of higher education institutions and boosting student enrolments. In Asia, this expansion of enrolments has meant that many countries, such as Republic of Korea, China and Singapore, have made rapid transitions from an extremely elite system of limited access to a university education, to a mass higher education system. The expansion has, however, failed to keep up with domestic demand as parents and students flock to higher education as a means to improve or maintain socio-economic mobility and enhance individual competitiveness in the job market.

“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you travelled” – Mohamed

The increasing demand, coupled with the financial power of the growing middle classes, has in-turn fuelled the trend for students to choose to leave their home countries in search of an overseas university education. Until the mid-1990s, the overwhelming destinations of choice were the traditional English-speaking countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. This choice made sense in view of the predominance of English as the global language of business, science and technology. Beginning in the mid-1990s, countries such as Malaysia began capitalising on the international appetite for higher education by positioning themselves as education hubs. The economic benefits of becoming an education hub are clear since international students contribute financially not only through the payment of tuition fees, but also in a variety of other ways: travel, accommodation, leisure activities, food and clothing purchases[2].

In short, the above factors combined with a relative decline in the cost of travel and communications has meant that increasing numbers of Asian students are choosing to study in another country, but within their own region. To capitalise on this, many big-name academic institutions from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia have established branches overseas to attract students attracted by their ‘brand appeal’ but less able to afford the costs associated with studying in an English-speaking country. Students from Europe, the US and Australia are also attracted to overseas campuses to gain overseas experience and, of course benefit from lower fees too. Examples of this include Nottingham University’s (UK) campuses in Ningbo, China, and Semenyih, Malaysia or James Cook University’s (Australia) campus in Singapore.

Influences on study destination choice

As the OECD indicates, global student mobility patterns typically mirror intra-regional migration patterns as well as the evolution of geopolitical relations. However, the sharp increase of the number of internationally mobile students prepared to invest considerable amounts in their overseas education has created intense competition between Asian countries and institutions for enrolments. This market oriented approach has forced many governments to turn to destination marketing organisations’ experience in order to gain a competitive edge.

Tourism Malaysia’s collaboration with the country’s Ministry of Education is an example of this. Similarly, in 2003 Singapore’s government created Singapore Education (now the Council for Private Education) with the cooperation of the Singapore Tourism Board to help promote Singapore as an education hub for overseas students.

When designing programmes to attract overseas students, marketers have to bear in mind that the decision of where to study and what to study is rarely left entirely to the individual student. As consumer research for this report shows, the students’ immediate family (most often parents) is the primary source of funding for all types of trip and therefore they will have an important say, if not the final decision, in these matters. University tutors, acting in line with exchange agreements between home and overseas institutions, as well as government bodies and scholarship foundations (domestic or overseas) providing funding will also bring considerable influence to bear on this decision.

According to a 2001 Education World Survey of one thousand undergraduate students who travelled abroad from ten Asian countries, mobile students’ key choice factors’ were ‘country’ (54%), ‘course’ (18%), ‘institution’ (17%) and ‘city’ (10%)[3].

The part of a student’s destination choice outside of the strictly academic criteria may be influenced by a range of factors that appeal to students’ consumer emotions. Research conducted in 2014 among students from 152 countries by the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) Association identified four student ‘mentalities’. These mentality orientations are based on students’ personal norms and values; by means of which they distinguish themselves from and identify with others in respect to their own lifestyle and opinions. The report Understanding the Global Student Mentality: Differentiation in a Plural Student Population revealed that of the four identified mentalities (‘loyalists’, ‘hedonists’, ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberalists’), ‘conservatives’ were the dominant mentality in Asia. These students typically place a high value on spending time with family and friends, engaging with other cultures, and travelling. Overall the study revealed that 67% of Singaporean students, 62% of South Korean students and 51% of Chinese students had a strong interest in travelling.

An attractive place to study

Finally, the elements of a study destination that also make for a good leisure destination are likely to create a strong appeal to young consumers making their choice of where to study overseas. Elements that make a particular destination ‘cool’ and fashionable such as a destination’s youth culture can create a strong attraction. UNESCO cites the example of Korean pop music, soap operas and movies being popular among Chinese youth contributing to the number of Chinese students studying in Korea. Over a period of ten years, the figure has multiplied 33 times, from 902 students in 1999 to 30,552 in 2008.

Given Asian students’ desire to travel, combined with the high cultural values placed on stability, personal safety and security (appealing to both students as well as their parents), it is destinations that are able to offer the right mix of connectivity, a good cultural offering in a safe environment that are most likely to benefit from the boom in young Asians’ desire to study overseas.

Want to read more?

Visit the PATA e-Store where you can purchase the full report The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller, or view the Executive Summary.


[2] Section adapted from: UNESCO (2013) The International Mobility of Students in Asia and the Pacific, UNESCO, Paris.

[3] UNESCO (2013) The International Mobility of Students in Asia and the Pacific, UNESCO, Paris.

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Shaping the present for the future in Macao


This week the third Global Tourism & Economy Forum (GTEF) takes place in Macao, pulling in tourism ministers and influential decision makers from around the world to discuss where the travel industry is heading next. I’m really honoured to have been invited to join a panel discussion in one of the Forum’s main sessions to discuss precisely how and why they should start to catering to the next generation of travellers.

There’s a special focus for this year’s GTEF, and it’s a subject close to the heart of the Chinese leadership in particular: the Maritime Silk Road. Today this 3000 year old trading route is has re-emerged as a focus of attention as a route not for the trading of silk and spices but increasingly for the attraction it has for tourists from around the world. More generally, it is now at the heart of China’s strategy to build economic and cultural links through a rich stream of countries that stretch from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean via the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. As the organisers put it:

‘On the back of trade, interest and ideas blossomed. People separated by the seas but connected by the MSR began to develop a fascination for cultures abroad and the first seeds of tourism were sown. In the 21st century, tourism has replaced silk, tea and spices which were the most important commodities traded along the ancient MSR. By fully leveraging their diverse culture and heritage, Maritime Silk Road nations today are actively enhancing cross-cultural connection and making alliances to strengthen their competitiveness in developing tourism economy.’

I’ll be speaking at a special session on the afternoon of Tuesday 28 October where we discuss how destinations along the Maritime Silk Road (MSR) can start building their strategy for tomorrow’s tourism development today. In particular we’ll be asking:

  • What strategic steps are tourism leaders taking to harness the new forces in consumer culture?
  • How are social media and mobile technology transforming the industry?
  • How do all these changes energize the industry and its leaders?
  • What does the history of the Maritime Silk Road teach us?
  • Has tourism replaced trade as the prime mover for travel?
  • How important is air connectivity in the 21st century versus maritime connectivity over 500 years ago?

These are all big questions, and to answer them, I’ll be discussing the research I did earlier this year with the Pacific Asia Travel Association into The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller as well as some of my other insights into the Millennials market. I look forward to sharing some of the lessons learned from the session in my next blog post.

Meanwhile, if you are among the 1,200 people attending this year’s GTEF, you can follow my Twitter feed @Genctraveller and drop me an email at genctraveller@gmail.com and I look forward to meeting you!

How to turn Chinese dreams into bookings

The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller

It’s official: Australia has been voted the Nº1 dream destination by young Chinese travellers. Young Koreans, Japanese, Malaysians and Vietnamese have also placed the country in the top 3 of their travel bucket list in a recent study by the Pacific Asia Travel Association.

 This exciting news for the Australian youth travel industry was revealed in the latest report The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller, released just last month by PATA, an organisation that’s been analysing Asia travel trends and bringing the industry in the region together for more than six decades.

I’m proud to have authored this report for PATA, and those of you who attended ATEC’s Australian Youth Travel Conference in Sydney earlier this year will recall that I shared some of the very early results of this study, which gathered data from nearly 3,000 people aged 15-29 from across 13 countries in Northeast and Southeast Asia.

What did our young Asian respondents tell us? The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller

 Here are a few highlights…

  •  37% funded their travel directly from their parents
  • The biggest motivator to travel is to visit somewhere they’ve never been before
  • Traveller review sites such as TripAdvisor are the most trusted source of information before departure, followed by tips from family and friends
  • Budget hotels, rather than hostels are the preferred option. Nearly 1 in 5 young Asian travellers stayed in a 4-5 star hotel on their last trip
  • France and the United States are the top dream destinations for all those surveyed, followed by Australia, Japan and Italy

Check out the Executive Summary

No-one’s ever targeted the Asian youth audience on such a scale before, and the results really give the Australian youth travel industry some food for thought, or rather, some challenging questions to answer. Why? Because while Australia is high on the dream list, the challenge for the Australian tourism industry (and not just those directly concerned with the youth market) is threefold:

  • How to beat the competition (there is a lot out there)?
  • How to meet or exceed traveller expectations on the ground?
  • How to maximise traveller spend, peer recommendations and repeat visits?

As I discussed in my recent reaction to Tourism Australia’s Managing Director John O’Sullivan’s recent interview with The Byte, Tourism Australia is placing a high priority on making Australian tourism China-ready. At the same time, he admitted that TA doesn’t currently have a youth-strategy. With big potential for further growth (and not just from China), and with equally big questions for the Australian youth travel industry to answer, perhaps it’s time to make one?

So rather than batter you with more statistics, I’m going to throw a few grenade style questions that we all need to consider for the years ahead…

  • Chinese currently represent 11% of youth arrivals and has been the fastest growing market for 4-5 years. However, in focussing on China alone is Australia putting all its eggs in one basket?
  • Australia isn’t the only big hitter out there. For time-pressed students and young professionals, nearby Asian destinations are cheap and easy to get to , while European destinations have been gearing up for Asian growth for years. Does Australia have an eye on the competition in the youth market?
  • Students can be are tourists too. Studying is the main reason that young Chinese come to Australia in the first place. How can the youth travel industry leverage its partnerships with the education sector?
  • Is the country’s infrastructure (hostels, tours, adventure sports activities) well geared towards the tastes of the modern Millennial traveller?
  • Australians have toured Europe for decades, getting a good understanding of what a good working holiday should involve (ie. a lot of drinking, a lot of adventure). Does this work the same way for young Taiwanese, Koreans or Hongkongese? How well does the Australian youth travel industry understand its emerging markets?

The questions are big, but so too are the opportunities. Again, it’s reassuring and to see Australia placed so highly in young Asians’ dream list of destinations. But turning those dreams into bookings, bed-nights and subsequent positive reviews online is going to require a huge amount of education, training and most of all, teamwork.

In future posts I’ll be discussing the implications of this report for other destinations, as well as looking at ways to put the report’s recommendations into practice.

How to get hold of The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller

PATA Members of certain categories are able to access the full report free of charge, while others will be able to purchase it for a fee. Take a look at the Executive Summary to find out more.


Peter Jordan, Founder, Gen C Traveller

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