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Asia Pacific one of the fastest growing online travel markets


Asia Pacific (APAC) is expected to be one of the fastest growth markets for online travel this year, with China a significant growth contributor particularly on mobile according to a key insights travel report.

Based on report findings, global online travel bookings this year (2017) should reach USD$567B (versus USD$513bn in 2016). By 2020 APAC is likely to be the largest travel – and online travel – market globally, predicted to represent:
• 42% of total travel demand (vs 34% in the US and 24% in Europe) by 2020; and
• 37% of online travel demand by 2020.

The report predicts much of APAC’s online travel growth will be led by mobile bookings, particularly in China. China is already the second-largest individual travel market in the world and will become APAC’s most highly penetrated online market this year (2017). Based on 2016 data, more than half (53%) of online travel bookings in China are already made on mobiles (versus 21% in the US and 25% in the UK).

In the most mature online travel markets, including Europe and the US, travellers are searching and shopping on mobile but many are holding onto entrenched desktop habits. In places like India, Indonesia and Brazil where there are less-entrenched desktop habits, the research predicts it’s likely mobile will overtake desktop bookings more quickly there than in the US and Europe.

Other key findings include:
• A hypercompetitive online travel agent (OTA) environment with steep discounts for app-based hotel bookings helped spur the surge in China mobile demand.
• China has become a startup hotbed second only to the US, but slowing economic growth and the dominance of individual players threatens to make funding harder to come by.
• Airlines are showing renewed focus on online distribution and digital retailing for business and leisure travellers; the world’s fastest-growing travel – and online travel – region Asia Pacific remains underpenetrated for online bookings but they are gaining fast: half of air bookings are projected to be online by 2020 in Asia Pacific.
• Younger travellers show a preference for booking Hotel & Lodging with OTAs, contributing to OTA performance in countries in the Middle East and Asia Pacific with high shares of young travellers.
• In 2017, online travel will likely see the fastest growth in emerging markets: the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Global online travel bookings in 2017 are predicted to be USD$567bn versus USD$513bn in 2016.
• Chat and Voice are the new traveller medium, but book-by-chat is in its infancy; chat-powered customer service will become integral to travel planning in the future.
• In-destination activities are a huge untapped opportunity; the long-tail of providers is finding its way into the global digital travel ecosystem and becoming a priority for travel’s biggest players. The value of travel activities in 2016 was USD$46 billion in Asia Pacific.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.