Stronger travel demand is here to stay, despite cost of living pressures, says Skyscanner CEO
Travel demand has proven resilient throughout the year, despite higher ticket prices, giving travel-related companies cause for optimism heading into 2024.
SINGAPORE: The world is set for a stronger demand in travel next year, building on the post-COVID-19 revenge travel trend that has seen more people heading overseas, said Skyscanner chief executive officer John Mangelaars.
“It is looking very good, especially in Asia. It's still recovering, but even for next year we see like a 10 to 15 per cent growth in travel,” he told CNA’s Asia First on Tuesday (Nov 28).
“So people are really planning to travel, and travel more and more.”
CULTURAL EXPLORATION A PRIORITY FOR TRAVELLERS
According to the travel search platform's Travel Trends report for 2024, cultural exploration will be a priority for travellers.
The high cost of living pressure, however, remains top of mind for travellers.
These include gig trippers travelling to see their favourite artists perform, and foodies seeking the best food places, said Mr Mangelaars, adding that travellers are looking to enhance their holidays in a cost-effective way with value-for-money holiday experiences.
This comes as travel demand has proven resilient throughout the year, despite higher ticket prices, said observers.
The current numbers may give travel-related companies cause for optimism heading into 2024.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said the industry was able to sustain strong demand for air travel in the third quarter. Passenger traffic, measured in revenue passenger-kilometres (RPKs), rose nearly 30 per cent year-on-year.
The Airports Council International (ACI), an association of the world's airports, said strong passenger growth this year places the industry on track for global passenger traffic recovery in 2024.
Their latest data show passenger traffic is expected to reach 9.4 billion this year, which already surpasses levels in 2019 before COVID-19 hit, with the figure likely to go even higher next year.
Asia-Pacific carriers led the traffic expansion in the third quarter, surging more than 75 per cent from a year ago.However, the ACI said the region's travel recovery is forecast to slow down significantly towards the end of this year, due to challenges in overseas tourism and economic concerns.
According to the Skyscanner report, 87 per cent of Singapore’s travellers plan to take the same number, if not more, trips abroad in 2024 compared with 2023.
Some 48 per cent of Singapore travellers say their choice of destination is largely determined by the cost of flight tickets.
USING TECHNOLOGY TO ENHANCE TRAVEL EXPERIENCES
Mr Mangelaars said the use of technology can help ensure that travellers have better experiences.
Skyscanner, for instance, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to figure out what travellers are looking for and help them better plan their holidays.
“They want to really figure out what the budget is, where they can go (or) how long it takes. So combining our own data with the AI tools, we can really do more unique things,” said Mr Mangelaars.
“You really can have unique questions and you can have more of a conversation with the system.”
He added that it starts with making sure that travellers are happy.
“For us, we have about 100 million people coming every month to our site. So it's about making sure that travellers are happy and they can find the best deals and they can find what they're looking for,” he noted.
“And the best deal doesn't have to be like the cheapest price, but it can be what works for you.”