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