According to a recent report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Asia Pacific’s tourism industry is expected to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and surpass its pre-pandemic peak by 2025.
The report forecasts that the region will see a 6.4% annual growth in tourism GDP from 2021 to 2025, reaching $3.7 trillion by 2025. This is higher than the global average of 5.6% and the pre-pandemic level of $3.5 trillion in 2019.
Recovering fast but it is still a long way from pre-COVID peak
Tourism in Thailand is recovering fast, but it is still a long way from reaching its pre-COVID peak. The Bank of Thailand (BoT) last week increased its predictions for foreign visitor arrivals, from 22 million to 25.5 million this year and 34 million the following year.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has also announced that it expects to welcome 25 million foreign visitors in 2023, a significant increase from its previous forecast of 18-20 million.
5 million Chinese tourists to visit the country in 2023
TAT also anticipated at least 5 million Chinese tourists to visit the country in 2023, about 50% of the 9.8 million pre-pandemic figure in 2019. The estimation is based on the upward trend of about 10,000 Chinese tourist arrivals per day, which is expected to increase to 20,000 tourists per day in the second half of the year.
Prior to the epidemic Thailand saw about 40 million visitors
Prior to the epidemic in 2019, Thailand saw about 40 million visitors, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 severely affected the tourism industry, as travel restrictions and lockdowns were imposed to contain the virus. According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the number of foreign tourists dropped by 83% in 2020, resulting in a huge loss of revenue and jobs for the sector.
The report also highlights the potential of domestic and regional travel, especially in markets like China, India, Japan, and Australia, which have large populations and diverse attractions.
More investment in digital transformation, sustainability, and social inclusion
The report also calls for more investment in digital transformation, sustainability, and social inclusion to ensure that tourism contributes to a more resilient and equitable future for Asia Pacific.
According to another commissioned by Arival Co, online bookings will surpass 30% of all tours, activities, and attraction bookings worldwide in 2025, up from 17% in 2019, according to the research.
However, as younger travellers help to drive the travel industry’s rebound, the volume of online bookings across Asia-Pacific will more than triple during that time. The region’s mobile-ready operators and online marketplaces will be in the best positions to profit.
Plenty of Instagram- and TikTok-worthy moments to woo Gen-Z
“The large, experience-hungry cohort of Gen-Z and millennial travelers in Asia are putting experiences first and they are willing to pay for it,” said Arival’s Quinby. “But operators must be ready. This means more small-group, immersive experiences that get travelers off the beaten. And it must all be discoverable and bookable on mobile, with plenty of Instagram- and TikTok-worthy moments.”
The Arival Activate event, taking place from June 12–14 in Bangkok, is expected to provide more information on travel trends and responses to post-pandemic travel.