Northeast Asia's travel industry, comprised of four key regional
travel markets - South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau – is preparing
for a rebound in 2023 with the rebuilding of air connectivity across
Asia Pacific markets.
However, global economic headwinds, high inflation, volatile jet fuel
prices and the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine are all
Weak currencies could impact spending power for outbound travellers.
Regional factors, such as North Korean foreign policy and China's
relations with Taiwan, loom large.
Crucially, each market is hoping that the ending of China's hardline
Covid policy will nurture a robust travel bounce back. A regional
recovery requires China to fully reopen. This will likely commence in
the first half of 2023.
According to Phocuswright’s latest travel research report Northeast
Asia Travel Market Report 2021-2025, South Korea is the region's largest
travel market, accounting for 53% of gross bookings in 2021 (see figure
Hong Kong and Taiwan were closely matched in the second and third
spots. The distribution of online bookings is weighted even further in
South Korea's favour. Its tech-agile travellers accounted for almost two
thirds of online gross bookings.
This reflects a diversity in booking of hotels, air, rail and car
rental for domestic travel in South Korea in 2021, and limited outbound
travel while other markets were stagnant. Some distance behind was
Taiwan, which took the second spot for online gross bookings.
The pandemic witnessed a dramatic surge in the popularity of
smartphones to search and book travel, with the mobile share of online
gross bookings peaking in 2021.
Although this may moderate slightly, an upswing in travel activity
will see mobile booking volumes take off. Mobile gross bookings in 2023
will comfortably surpass 2019 levels. A projected US$11.2 billion in
2025 would be more than double the 2019 record.
The mobile travel realm is especially competitive in South Korea.
Homegrown online travel brands like Good Choice, Yanolja, MyRealTrip and
Tidesquare invested astutely in technology during the pandemic to
capture domestic bookings and prepare for international travel to start
heating up from 2021 onwards.
Acquisition activity has also been aggressive, enabling online
players to add new product and service capabilities to their mobile apps