Rising affluence among a new generation Asia Pacific consumers means the global travel industry can expect to welcome an estimated nearly 90 million new travellers by 20251, according to Visa. Asia Pacific households now account for one in three global travelling households, up from one out of four in 2006.

These projections based on the Visa International Travel (VISIT) platform, also found that travellers are more likely to take long-haul trips as income levels gradually rise. “Travel patterns are changing among Asia Pacific consumers. As household income growth continue to outpace economic growth in most countries in the region, overseas travel is not only becoming more common, people are also travelling more often and looking at further destinations such as Europe and the US,” said Glenn Maguire, Principal Asia Pacific Economist, Visa.

Within the affluent in our region, Singapore travellers have the highest propensity (52 percent) for long-haul travel. Even among markets with growing middle-income households such as Indonesia (38 percent) and India (13 percent), regional travel destinations are becoming popular in line with income growth.

In the study, 250 cities around the world were analysed and it showed that once a city achieves a critical mass2 of travelling-class household, the likelihood for increased overseas travel rises significantly. In the case for China, the number of cities reaching the tipping point in cross-border tourism is likely to double by 2025, adding nearly 80 million more households to the global travelling class.

Maguire added, “As more Asia Pacific consumers begin exploring beyond their national borders, these present opportunities as well as challenges for the tourism industry including travel providers and infrastructure operators including airports, hotels and attractions.

“Our analysis shows that China’s major cities have emerged as key Asia Pacific destinations. This highlights the fact that China is becoming an increasingly important inbound market, as well as providing the majority of outbound tourist flows. This trend will continue as tourism infrastructure in China develops further.

“Outside of Asia Pacific, international destinations boasting cultural and religious characteristics of the new travelling class with the Haj pilgrimage often marks the first international trip made by Asia Pacific’s emerging travelling class.”