Travel TrendsTraveloka's Caesar Indra discusses Southeast Asia’s travel boom in 2023, fuelled by revenge travel, sustainable tourism, and concert mania.

Concert craze, sustainable staycations, and domestic delights define 2023

Caesar Indra highlights the significant impact of Blackpink's concert in Southeast Asia, igniting the trend of "concert tourism" in the region.
Caesar Indra highlights the significant impact of Blackpink's concert in Southeast Asia, igniting the trend of "concert tourism" in the region. Photo Credit: YG Entertainment
About the author
About the author

Caesar India is the President of Traveloka, Southeast Asia’s travel and lifestyle platform, responsible for fostering collaborations with stakeholders in the ecosystem, including businesses of all sizes and government relations.

In the first half of 2023, Southeast Asia's travel industry saw a surge in revenge travel and sustainable tourism, accompanied by high flight prices and concert fever.

With borders fully reopened for the first time in three years, travel is back on track, with Singapore recording 2.9 million arrivals in the first quarter alone.

The second half promises to be eventful, with emerging trends and MICE events driving both business and domestic travel. Global acts are also drawn to the region's allure. As we reach the mid-year mark, let's explore key industry takeaways that will shape the rest of 2023.

Concert mania’s here to stay

The early months of 2023 witnessed the surge of "concert tourism" in Southeast Asia, with world tours by Blackpink and Harry Styles igniting the trend. However, the upcoming 2024 tours of Coldplay and Taylor Swift have truly turbocharged the phenomenon.

With each planning six sold-out shows in Singapore, millions are clamoring for a chance to see their favorite artists live. Flight bookings during these periods increased six-fold, indicating the immense popularity of concert-driven tourism.

Taylor Swift's upcoming concert as one of the major events driving "concert mania" in Southeast Asia.
Taylor Swift's upcoming concert as one of the major events driving "concert mania" in Southeast Asia.

This trend presents an opportunity for travel platforms and governments to drive economic growth, with local businesses reaping benefits and supporting post-pandemic recovery. Concert tourism is poised to become a prominent feature of Southeast Asia's travel landscape.

Business travel slow to take-off

In addition to hosting major business events and forums in-person this year, the region anticipates a boost in business travel with the G20 Summit in India and the Milken Institute Asia Summit in Singapore.

However, business travel recovery in Asia has been slower than in other regions due to the adoption of advanced remote working technology, which has reduced the need for physical travel. Moreover, sustainability concerns have led to a push for more eco-friendly trips, with 95% of business travelers seeking greener options in the next 12 months.

Despite these factors, the Asia Pacific's preference for face-to-face interactions may lead to a gradual increase in business travel demand in the second half of 2023, spurred by high-level global conferences.

Driving domestic tourism a priority

Domestic tourism was a choice pick among travellers when borders were shut. That conversation has begun to stall in recent months. But there is reason to reignite Southeast Asia’s love for local travel, not least because of its sustainable and empowering nature.

Intra-country travel is a major driver of local economic growth and employment, particularly in Southeast Asia. Domestic tourism revenue in the region peaked at US$145.1 billion in 2019 – just shy of the US$147.6 billion brought in by international tourism the same year.

Many countries here are still doubling down on domestic tourism. Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, for example, recently announced a target of 1.4 billion local tourists in 2023 while committing to the creation of 4.4 million tourism jobs by 2024. Thailand has also prioritised domestic tourism, setting a target of 250 million domestic trips in 2023.

With sustainability a core consideration for many young travellers today, local destinations with homegrown businesses that contribute to the economy and community hold strong appeal. Southeast Asia is projected to continue enhancing its domestic offerings, fostering socio-economic and environmental growth.

Anticipation is high for the latter half of 2023, as the region awaits what travel trends lie ahead, acknowledging the unpredictable nature of demand.

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