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Travelzoo Asia Pacific survey highlights burgeoning regional travel appetite

Vicky Karantzavelou - 31 January 2013, 09:48

A strong Renminbi and a growing travel demand will see Travelzoo's mainland Chinese subscribers lead the region in travel frequency.

HONG KONG - Travelzoo Asia Pacific, a licensee of Travelzoo Inc., a global Internet media company, today announced its annual subscriber survey findings that showed Asian travellers' appetite for leisure travel remains strong, regardless of economic uncertainty.  Other key figures that will shape this year's leisure travel industry include an increase in overall spending and the rising influence of Mainland Chinese travellers.

The survey forms part of Travelzoo Asia Pacific annual initiative to better understand travel behaviour and trends of its regional subscribers. Conducted in collaboration with WIMI, a consumer insights consultancy firm, nearly 3,000 Travelzoo subscribers in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia and Japan responded between December 1, 2012 and January 22, 2013.

According to the survey, average travel frequency in the region will increase to 4.5 from 3.6 of last year. Regional spending will also see a similar growth of around 23 percent over that of last year. Although economic uncertainty and inflation continues to weigh heavily across the region, these figures show that Asian travellers' appetite to travel not only remains unabated, but will instead only grow stronger.

When segmented by country, Australian travellers will be the biggest spenders in 2013. According to the survey, Travelzoo Australian subscribers will fork out on average USD 8,867 and travelling 3.8 times, compared to last year's figures of USD 6,877 and travelling 2.8 times.

Mainland Chinese rising influence on the leisure travel industry was a key highlight of the survey. According to the survey figures, Mainland Chinese subscribers, with 6.9 leisure trips on average that includes getaways and long-haul holidays, will travel the most in 2013.  This is a significant increase from last year's average figure of 4.2.  They will also be the second biggest spenders after the Australian leisure seekers. Figures show that they will spend 20 percent more than last year, amounting to USD 7,117 on average.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong travellers are forecasted to spend 22 percent more but travel slightly less in 2013. According to the figures, they are looking to spend USD 5,909 on average but reduce their average trip to 4.2 from 5 last year. Inflation and stronger overseas currency may be key reasons for the slight curb in travel, as Hong Kong travellers are expecting to spend more per trip than they were used to.

Japanese travellers desire to travel continue to remain strong, with 4.7 trips on average compared to last year's 3.4. However, the weaker Japanese yen and the resurgence of inbound travel after the Tsunami, with less discounted deals for local travellers, will see this group's spending remain nearly flat at USD 4,342 this year.   

Taiwan travellers will follow their Australian and Mainland Chinese counterparts by travelling more and spending more. Figures show that they will spend USD 4,050 on average, and travel on average 3 times.

"What the survey shows is that the desire for leisure travel remains strong. At the same time, you cannot deny the growing influence of Mainland China travellers on the leisure travel market," said Mr. Jason Yap, CEO, Travelzoo Asia Pacific. "Buoyed by a strong Renminbi, and a growing passion for unique travel experiences, our discerning subscribers in China are highlighting their strong travel appetite, which has changed considerably over the past year and is driving the regional travel trends. In addition, the results underscore Travelzoo's success in providing high quality recommendations that speak directly to their increasingly sophisticated travel inclinations."

Other Key Findings:
Chinese prefer Australia
Australia continues to be the favourite destination for most Mainland Chinese subscribers, although Maldives and Thailand are becoming increasingly popular, being ranked second and third respectively. The survey also underscored the Mainland Chinese's appetite to travel further. A stronger Renminbi, rising inflation within China, and the allure of exotic foreign travel were reasons for Mainland Chinese subscribers choosing to replace domestic travel and Hong Kong with Italy, Switzerland and France in their Top 10 desired destinations. Desire to holiday in Japan also fell drastically due to the prevailing tensions between the two countries.

Radiation fears are having little effect on the travel appetites of Hong Kong and Taiwanese subscribers, as they continue to choose Japan as the favourite destination. The recent depreciation of Japanese yen will continue to attract shoppers and travellers to Japan. Meanwhile, Australian subscribers rank domestic travel as their favourite, and Japanese subscribers prefer spending their leisure holidays in the USA.

Majority are beach lovers
Nearly half of Travelzoo Asia Pacific subscribers prefer sun-kissed holidays at the beach, making it the top holiday activity in their list.

Mainland Chinese subscribers asserted their confidence in venturing out on their own by selecting self-drive holidays as their second-most desired activity.  The entry of niche holidays into their top 10 desired vacations, such as photography vacations and safaris, also highlight their heightening desire and sophistication for unique and adventurous experience. Meanwhile, a rising majority of Mainland Chinese subscribers enjoy the flexibility of solo travel, with 41 percent saying they will travel alone for leisure in 2013, up from the 28 percent in 2012.

More subscribers are also taking to the Internet to conduct their travel bookings. A PhoCusWright study showed that travel bookings in China will surpass USD 105 billion in 2013, of which more than USD 15 billion will be made online.  It also estimates that the online travel market will grow by some 500% between 2008 and 2013.

"While the survey shows that the Asia Pacific leisure travel industry will continue to impact the global market, it also highlights the increasingly prominent role of the Mainland Chinese travellers," said Darryl Andrew, Managing Partner of WIMI. "Although traditional modes such as guided tours will see some growth, many Mainland Chinese are becoming more adventurous and diverse in pursuing unique leisure escapades. Therefore, growth is likely to be much more dynamic in the areas and sectors that cater to individual pursuits and exploration."

Travellers becoming more mobile-savvy
Over 60 percent of Travelzoo Asia Pacific subscribers used mobile Internet while travelling in 2012.  Hong Kong is proving to be a centre of innovation when it comes to the use of mobile devices for travel, with more Hong Kong subscribers indicating that they used their mobile devices for planning and booking their holidays.

According to the results, 83 percent of Travelzoo Hong Kong subscribers said they used their smart phones to navigate routes, discover restaurants and communicate via messages.  Meanwhile, 31 percent said that they completed a travel booking using their mobiles, which leads the regional average of 26 percent and falls just behind the 34 percent mobile-savvy Japanese subscribers.

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