It was a rainy afternoon at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand, but the commute to the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit was a breeze. With direct access to the BTS line, this five-star hotel was the official venue for the high-level panel discussion and networking evening on ‘Asia Pacific Tourism Trends and Outlook’.
Organised by PATA in partnership with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), ADARA and the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit, the event aimed to provide policymakers, senior officials, researchers and industry representatives with access to high-level insights into both local and regional trends.
The event kicked off on a friendly note with networking among the more than 60 delegates who represented tourism organisations from both public and private sectors, filling the room with positive energy, smiles and laughs.
PATA CEO Dr Mario Hardy led the insights sessions with a presentation on ‘Traveller Trends for 2020’, providing an overview of Asia Pacific tourism trends and sharing his thoughts on industry prospects for 2020.
The forecast numbers were optimistic with Asia Pacific expected to receive more than 898 million international visitors by 2023, but Dr Mario sounded a word of caution. Travel industry professionals need to take into account the social, political and military risk scenarios that could potentially impact the global economy if they materialised. Climate change and overtourism will also affect the quality of travel; growth is a good thing but it should be sustainable. All stakeholders – from policy makers to SME’s to the individual traveller – have the power to contribute to a better future for tourism by working together in partnership for sustainable growth following PATA’s vision for 2020: Partnerships for Tomorrow:
Dr Mario left us with the following food for thought:
“We are all affected by climate change. We are all damaged by the pollution. Who wants to go to the beach with pollution? Who wants to go to a city where you have to wear a mask? We have to work together to make a difference moving forward. We have a responsibility as the tourism industry to do that, and we need engagement from all of us to take on that leadership.”– Dr Mario Hardy, CEO, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)
In the next session, Khun Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, the Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Asia and South Pacific), Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), focussed on the outlook for Thailand in 2020.
It is no surprise that tourism for Thailand is forecast to see continued growth in 2019. The number of international tourist arrivals from neighboring countries including Lao PDR, Philippines and Indonesia will see considerable growth, while arrivals from Malaysia is predicted to reach over 4.3 million by the end of the year. How Malaysians are traveling has also evolved, with more Malaysians looking to fly to Bangkok, Phuket and other big cities, as opposed to the day trips over the border.
Khun Chattan pointed out that “segmentation and understanding how each market segment travels is key”. For example, Indian tourists tend to travel in groups rather than individually while Australian tend to stay longer and spend more, with their preferred destination being beaches. The Asian traveller has on average four days of vacation while Europeans have seven days, so their trips are different. These should be taken into consideration when it comes to planning marketing campaigns.
Regardless, international political conflicts, the continued strengthening of the Thai baht, infrastructure and safety limitations, as well as environmental concerns are challenging factors that can hold back the growth of tourism in Thailand.
In the third session ‘Data Driven Travel Marketing: 2020 and Beyond’, Matthew Zatto, Vice President of Tourism, APAC for ADARA suggested an approach for reducing these risks through the application of accurate, real-time data, which has now become indispensable for tourism development.
Through data, tourism brands can gain insights into key metrics and developments such as location spending, the competitive landscape, and the destination’s overall ecosystem. Tourism professionals can also optimise marketing campaigns through real-time insights into media performance across digital channels, and most importantly measure the impact of their marketing campaigns. Matthew also noted a shift from the old way of using data to measure impressions, clicks and arrivals to the new way of applying data to understand traveller preferences and provide a more personalised experience.
The insights session concluded with a 25-minute panel discussion among the three speakers on ‘Asia Pacific Tourism Trends and Outlook’, moderated by Paul Pruangkarn, Director of Communications and External Affairs at PATA, where topics ranged from how to combat pollution to the key factor that would drive the tourism industry to a more sustainable future.
Sammy Carolus, General Manager of Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit, then delivered the closing remarks before the event closed with a networking session among the speakers and delegates, fuelled by delicious canapes and refreshments.
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This event is complimentary to all PATA members. For inquiries on sponsorship and speaking opportunities, or how to become a PATA member, please email membership@PATA.org.