Growing affluence in Asia has given its people more travel options and fuelled a thriving tourism industry in key Asian cities. More women in India are travelling on their own. Airlines in Malaysia are promoting new routes, and Thailand, Japan and Hong Kong have emerged as top destinations for tourists from China. Here are excerpts from articles in Asia News Network newspapers.
Indian women travellers increasingly open to going solo
The passion for travelling alone has increased among Indian women. According to a recent survey commissioned by Skyscanner, a global travel search engine, about 70 per cent of Indian women travellers have either gone on a solo trip or are planning one.
The survey, which studied the travel habits of Indian travellers, highlighted that 37 per cent of Indian women travellers have done a solo trip, while 33 per cent are open to the idea of travelling solo.
"It feels amazing to travel solo. One gets to explore places according to his or her own wish. There is so much adventure in it. I am planning to go to Goa again during December. That place is so much lively," said freelance writer Adjrija, an avid traveller.
"I am a travel writer and going to different places and meeting new people is what I love doing the most. I earlier had apprehensions about travelling alone but now I enjoy doing that without any worries. The stereotypical mindset is changing now particularly among girls," she added.
Ms Kavitha Gnanamurthy, senior marketing manager at Skyscanner India, said: "It is encouraging to see that Indian women are increasingly breaking stereotypes and travelling alone."
The results reveal that most of them prefer domestic destinations as much as overseas ones, and there is a huge potential for the travel and hospitality industry to tap into this growing segment.
Perhaps safety and security remain key barriers for women solo travellers all across the country.
Interestingly, it is revealed that domestic destinations remain as attractive as international ones among Indian women solo travellers. The most preferred one is the capital city, Delhi, with its amalgamation of various cultures and traditions as well as historic value. This is followed by Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore and Kolkata among others.
Busy skies despite slumping ringgit
Airlines and travel agents are promoting new destinations and routes to travellers despite the steep depreciation of the ringgit this year.
Malindo Air launched its latest route, to Amritsar in India for a return fare of RM1,200 (S$392), last week, while AirAsia is offering Goa, also in India, for a one-way fare of RM12.
This is the first time the destinations are being offered by a local airline, and both are hugely popular tourist spots.
Last week also saw the return of Japan's All Nippon Airways or ANA, one of the few global airlines with premium economy seats, to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) after a long hiatus.
The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents Fair may have attracted many people over the weekend but the number of transactions made for airfare, tour packages or hotel bookings is not known at press time.
For now, the weaker ringgit has put some pressure on outbound travel, mostly in the long-haul sector, experts said.
When contacted, AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes said: "No, we can't see (the ringgit as a dampener on the travel industry).
"We think people are taking shorter trips, more short- to medium-haul."
ANA's return to KLIA shows that it believes that there is outbound traffic from Malaysia, and it hopes to sell the Kuala Lumpur-Tokyo-US link.
British Airways and ANA have returned to KLIA; next is Air China, in October.
While outbound travel may suffer because of the weak ringgit, inbound travel can remain healthy, as foreign tourists will benefit in terms of higher purchasing power.
A report quoting Deutsche Bank said that Kuala Lumpur is one of the cheapest cities in the world in which to enjoy a five-star holiday.
"Not only are prices reasonable (one night in a five-star hotel can cost one-third of the price in a similar property in Hong Kong), there is much to see and do," the report said.
Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong are top destinations among tourists from China
Thailand, Japan and Hong Kong became the most popular overseas destinations for tourists from the Chinese mainland during the summer's peak tourism season because of the destinations' new visa policies and favourable currency exchange rates.
According to a report released on Monday by tuniu.com, a Chinese online travel agency in Nanjing, outbound visits in July and August increased 380 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Asian countries and regions still ranked as the most popular destinations of Chinese tourists. However, South Korea, which was the first choice of Chinese tourists in 2014, fell out of the top five because of the recent outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers).
But tourism to South Korea has been slowly recovering since it became virtually free of the Mers virus at the end of July. Tuniu reported that visits to South Korea saw a 150 per cent month-to-month growth in August.
July and August are traditionally the peak summer vacation months and account for 35 per cent of the total trips made abroad during the year, the China Tourism Academy said.
Italy is also among the popular choices during the summer break, thanks to the Expo 2015 in Milan, according to Ctrip, a Chinese online travel agency based in Shanghai.
The China outbound tourism development report, published by the China Tourism Academy - a think-tank under the National Tourism Administration - said China continued to make rapid strides in the global tourism market, and is expected to see 16 per cent more mainland tourists travelling overseas in 2015 than did so last year.
The number of mainland travellers from western regions, second- and third-tier cities and rural areas are expected to rise, the report said.
• The View From Asia is a weekly compilation of articles from The Straits Times' media partner Asia News Network, a grouping of 22 newspapers. For more, see www.asianewsnet.net
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2015, with the headline 'New travel trends in Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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