A study published by PATA last year (The Rise of Young Asian Traveller) revealed that millennials don’t want to simply be spectators as they travel, they want to be actors! They want to engage with local communities and they want to experience travel.
To provide greater insights into this phenomenon, the Association plans to release a second study on the travel trends of young Asian consumers. Titled “Stepping Out of the Crowd”, the report will focus on the way young people from Northeast and Southeast Asia experience travel, and how the future expected increase in outbound travel from Asia can be managed to ensure that both large and small destinations can benefit from growth.
However, this phenomenon is not only being observed with millennials anymore. It is now being seen amongst the more experienced travellers who are in search of unusual, unique and authentic travel experiences.
This has led to the creation of many travel websites focusing on local experiences, such as www.triip.me, www.localalike.com, www.withlocals.com, www.adventurelink.com and many others. Even traditional travel businesses, like Miki Travel in Japan have also adapted their product offering to meet the demand of more experienced Japanese travellers.
New emerging destinations have also begun to take notice. Destinations like Albay province in the Philippines and Thekkady, India, winners of the PATA CEO Challenge 2015, have also taken advantage of this opportunity by embracing their authenticity, culturally diversity and innovative offerings to attract today’s modern traveller.
A local experience can be anything from a simple walking tour of the city discovering its local markets, to tasting the best street food or learning to fish with a local fisherman. Often the most authentic and unique experiences are not created at the iconic destinations, but in less known areas such as picking tea leafs in the mountain regions of Sri Lanka or picking coffee beans in Norfolk Island in the Pacific.
As tourism numbers continues to grow, destinations will continuously need to innovate to help achieve a more even dispersion of its tourists. I would encourage destinations to closely work with its communities and the local private sector to start expanding its product offering to attract the growing number of “Experience Seekers”.
Till next time,
Chief Executive Officer
Pacific Asia Travel Association