What’s trending in luxury travel? Just back from: ILTM Asia Pacific

The luxury travel category has needed to significantly adapt in recent times. Returning from the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) in Singapore, Luxury Travel’s Editor, Katrina Holden, shares the trends emerging in luxury travel right now.

It was in early March, 2020 when I flew back into Sydney after travelling on assignment as a freelance writer to Botswana and Zambia with global luxury tour operators, Abercrombie & Kent. Within days, Australia, like most of the world, was in lockdown with our borders slammed shut for an extended period that none of us could have ever predicted.

The tourism segment was of course one of the most severely affected industries by the pandemic. It was, at times, heartbreaking to see livelihoods and businesses collapse amid the uncertainty.

Yet, it has been truly encouraging to witness the resilience as luxury travel operators have dusted themselves off to return to the business of bringing travellers unforgettable travel experiences and moments.

In Singapore last week for the annual International Luxury Travel Market, Asia Pacific, there was a buzzing enthusiasm as fellow travel professionals convened, face-to-face, to dissect the latest trends and shifts in the luxury travel market.

The ‘great pause’ has ironically, but undoubtedly, gifted many operators with the opportunity to thoroughly reassess and, where necessary, map out a new path and offering that will return luxury travellers once more to some of the world’s most alluring destinations – but in a way that involves a significant increase in responsible, respectful, sustainable and more authentic travel experiences.

Key trends in luxury travel

At the opening night of ITLM, Portfolio Director of ILTM, Alison Gilmore, shared the results of a survey conducted by affluent research specialists Altiant, taken from 500 wealthy APAC travellers from six countries.

Both the survey, and two days of presentations to the travel media, revealed a number of distinct trends emerging. They include:

Flying less often but staying in destinations longer

The survey revealed that wealthy APAC travellers are also much more likely to want to fly less often and stay somewhere for longer (50%), and to take holidays which last longer than a week (45%).

The Australians surveyed nominated Australia, New Zealand and the USA as their top, preferred destinations.

The survey showed 50% prefer longer holidays with an emphasis on slow, recuperative travel vs only 19% in favour of fast, whistle-stop breaks. Almost half also prefer holidays to new venues/experiences (48%), trips which last a week or longer (45%), are single-destination (43%) and which enable exploration of the local area (40%).

Wellness travel

The data also showed a clear preference for taking relaxing/ slower holidays rather than more active ones (61% vs 17%), with wellness travel predicted to continue to rise.

Health and wellness travel prior to the pandemic was valued at $4.9 trillion by the Global Wellness Institute. Its value has fallen slightly to $4.4 trillion in 2020, but following the stress of the past two years and an increased desire to live a healthy lifestyle, three in five affluent APAC travellers now say that health and wellness is a significant factor when planning a trip.

Sustainability and giving back

Many have suggested that the travel industry needs to do much better in a post-Covid world to acknowledge the continuing climate crisis. The survey showed that 31% say that sustainability/environmental protection is important in their travel considerations; while 48% are planning to take more sustainable/eco-friendly trips in the future.

The importance of luxury travel advisors

Up to 92% of wealthy APAC travellers said they plan to use travel agents for at least some of their holiday bookings over the next year, given the uncertainty in travel conditions and the increased need to call on the expertise of a well-informed, luxury travel advisor.

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