Digital habits set to stay as travel steadily resumes in Asia Pacific

Consumers in Asia Pacific are back, and travel is high on their agenda. Now more than ever, their journeys begin online – from researching, planning, to booking – as digital travel habits look set to stay according to the latest Visa Green Shoots Radar survey.¹

Asia Pacific travellers are on the move

Visa’s Green Shoots Radar survey revealed rising enthusiasm for domestic and international travel among Asia Pacific respondents. More than a third (37%) of Asia Pacific respondents said they visited overseas destinations in the past 12 months, versus 32% in the last wave of the report. Mainland China, Taiwan, and South Korea saw the greatest rise in overseas travel by up to 10 percentage points from the previous report.

Japan emerged as the most popular travel destination in Asia Pacific. It was especially popular among respondents from Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea. As travellers venture abroad, there was also a rise in “backyard tourism”, where travellers visit countries closer to home for short and convenient getaways that still offer novel sights. Many Japanese respondents said they visited South Korea, New Zealanders explored Australia, Singaporeans hopped over to Malaysia, while Malaysians set their sights on Thailand. 

While short-haul travel reflects the rich and varied experiences in Asia Pacific, two-thirds (65%) of respondents said they travelled domestically. This was most prevalent in larger markets like Mainland China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia, where more than four in five    respondents made a trip to other parts of their country.

Asia Pacific travellers are not putting their passports away anytime soon. The Green Shoots Radar survey found that two in three  respondents in Asia Pacific said they intend to venture overseas for leisure in the coming year, while one-third  intend to travel in the next six months. Domestic travel enthusiasm also remains high, with 85% of respondents planning to travel within their borders in the next year, with nearly half (44%) planning to do so in the next three months.

Digital habits becoming the norm for travellers

How are travellers making their plans a reality? For most, the first port of call is a website. More than three in four (78%) of Asia Pacific respondents, especially those from Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand – bought plane tickets directly from an airline’s website. 

47 %

Of Asia Pacific respondents favoured a one-stop platform to make travel bookings

54 %

Of Asia Pacific respondents used online travel agencies (OTAs) and aggregators that make price comparisons easily

78 %

Of Asia Pacific respondents bought plane tickets directly from an airline’s website

Meanwhile, online travel agencies (OTAs) were the first stop for convenient and frictionless booking of accommodations, transportation, and visits to local attractions. Respondents said convenience is a key factor in their booking process, with 54% using OTAs and aggregators that make price comparison easy, while 47% favoured a one-stop platform to make bookings.   

Other top reasons for travellers favouring OTAs and aggregators were the ease of reading customer reviews and ratings, access to exclusive deals, and modifying bookings all in one place.

As more Asia Pacific travellers research, plan, and book their trips online, the way they pay is also becoming more digital than ever. Use of credit cards is the most prevalent payment method, with over half (58%) of respondents surveyed said they used credit cards to pay in full at the time of booking and just under half (48%) of respondents used credit cards to pay upon check-in, when booking through OTAs.  

Conversely, debit cards (26%) and mobile wallets (23%) were the most prevalent ways to pay for Gen Z respondents in Asia Pacific when checking into their accommodations, showing the variety of card payment preferences across different age segments.

These digital payment habits echo Visa’s Global Travel Intentions report in late 2023, which found that 97% of respondents carried payment cards with them on their trips, compared to 17% for destination currency.

Making travel more rewarding and seamless

With travel and payment habits becoming digital, there is a great opportunity for financial institutions, travel destinations, and travel platforms to increase their discoverability and saliency in the travel journey. While many issuers currently offer travel perks for cardholders, they can further reinforce their offerings such as providing timely deals for travellers on OTAs or making online payments more seamless by encouraging cardholders to register their cards on mobile wallets, that travellers, especially Gen Zs, are turning to. 

In sum, destinations and merchants that digitise effectively will enjoy greater visibility to travellers hunting for their next holiday online, while seamless and hassle-free payment experiences may create happier tourists that keep coming back for more.  

¹ Visa, Green Shoots Radar Wave 13 Report, accessed March 2023

Contact Visa to discover more travel insights in the Green Shoots Radar report.