Return of International Travel: Insights from Asia Pacific Markets

The revival of international travel is gaining momentum as travel restrictions ease across countries. A recent study commissioned by Collinson, a global leader in traveler experiences, reveals the latest trends and travel habits driving Asia Pacific customers. The research surveyed nearly 5,400 frequent travelers across Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, providing valuable insights into the region’s travel landscape.

Increased Travel Demand

The study indicates a positive shift in travel behavior, with travelers planning an average of 3 return trips in 2022, compared to the pre-pandemic average of 6 trips in 2019. As summer in the northern hemisphere approaches, traditionally known as the “peak travel season,” a surge in domestic leisure trips is expected. However, 55% of respondents express a keen interest in venturing beyond their home market for at least one trip.

India Leading the Recovery

India stands out as a frontrunner in travel recovery, witnessing a significant increase in international passenger traffic. In May 2023, travel reached 72% of pre-COVID levels, and it is projected to reach 80-85% by April 2023. South East Asia, the Middle East, and Europe are among the preferred destinations driving this demand. This eagerness to explore signifies a strong desire among travelers to make up for lost time and experiences during the pandemic.

Lingering Travel Anxieties

Despite the resumption of travel, concerns related to COVID-19 persist. Approximately 42% of respondents express anxiety about contracting infections while at the airport, while others fear crowded environments leading to another outbreak. Additionally, logistical challenges such as mask-wearing, travel restrictions, and mandatory quarantines contribute to the apprehension. Nevertheless, the positive trend emerges as only a little over 10% of people still feel unsafe about traveling, indicating a promising travel recovery outlook.

The Importance of Airport Lounges

Airport lounges play a crucial role in alleviating travel anxieties. The research reveals that 49% of Indian travelers feel safer at the airport when they have access to a lounge. Lounge access is considered the most desirable travel benefit at the airport, with 87% of Indian travelers expecting it as a premium card benefit. For 55% of respondents, lounge access makes them feel rewarded, while 52% feel valued as a customer.

Priority PassTM Access India

Recognizing the value travelers place on lounge experiences, Collinson has launched Priority PassTM Access India. This program enables access to over 50 premium lounges and airport experiences across major cities in India by simply tapping or swiping a credit or debit card. This is complemented by access to Priority Pass’s extensive network of 1,300 airport lounges and experiences globally, covering 95% of all international flights from the top 100 airports.

Embracing Travel Rewards in the New Era

As airports implement additional health and safety measures, travelers are expected to seek fresh lounge experiences. The emphasis on safety and the celebration of the return to travel present an opportunity for brands to provide innovative travel-related benefits that enhance loyalty and attract new customers. For instance, Collinson’s SmartDelay offers lounge services when flights are delayed or canceled, providing added value to travelers.

Research Methodology

The data collection agency, Lucid, conducted the fieldwork between April 9 and June 6, 2022, independently sampling 5,387 respondents across the seven major Asia Pacific markets. The research targeted frequent travelers who own credit or charge cards with travel rewards or benefits. The study explored travelers’ perceptions of various payment card travel benefits, including airport lounge access, and profiled their travel behavior before the pandemic, in 2021, and their travel expectations for 2022.

The study highlights the resurgence of international travel in the Asia Pacific region, with travelers eagerly embracing the opportunity to explore new destinations. Although concerns related to COVID-19 persist, the demand for travel is steadily increasing. Airport lounges play a vital role in providing a sense of safety and reward for travelers. Brands that understand and cater to these evolving travel preferences have the opportunity to foster loyalty and attract new customers in this new era of travel.

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