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This is the week of Skift Forum Asia, the second edition of our flagship conference focused on what until now was the fastest growing region for the global travel industry. Asia was the present and future of travel, as we at Skift have been saying since our start, it is where the future of travel was being tested.
As the pandemic is reshaping all parts of the travel sector, many big questions linger and we will attempt to get answers to some of these on Thursday, Oct 15 from the excellent slate of speakers we have curated from across the continent and around the world.
I decided to jot down the big picture questions I have swirling in my head, some more speculative than others. Come join us this week live on Singapore time (or on-demand soon after) as we explore this and more.
- How much of Asia can harness local demand in travel in the next few years as long-haul travel, long a mainstay of the continent, is a fraction of what it used to be?
- Will the hundreds of millions of Chinese tourists come back out again across all international borders (as China remains locked in global geopolitical battles), particularly long-haul? If they don’t will regional Asian economies benefit from it?
- Will Western travel brands rethink entering China again because of the giant domestic market in case outbound Chinese travelers remain a trickle? And will Trip.com be a major player in control of that access to local market as it currently does for many big brands?
- In the potential restructuring of Asia’s tourism map, will local brands win out for the locals against international travel brands?
- How will local Asian travel consumer behavior change and will mass market tourism be shunned by many travelers and destinations, or will anything-goes-for-economic survival be the order of the day?
- Can the big tentpole events like Tokyo’s Olympics and Dubai‘s Expo2020 have any chance of happening next year? Will Olympics follow the model of how sports has been restarted around the world, with just athletes bubbles and no visitors allowed?
- Will Russia continue to extend its influence across tourism economies in Asia, and mass Russian tourists continue their pre-Covid behavior in these destinations?
- Is Asia still the future for the big online travel companies that have saturated their western markets, but may have to decide on focus in face of a long economic downturn in their home regions?
- Will India be able to direct its hundreds of millions to domestic tourism in any major way, especially as its economy has been destroyed and Covid is nowhere near under control? How will India’s fast-growing outbound tourism market change?
- Will long-term visas in places like Thailand have a chance of success in attracting long-haul, long-stay tourists?
- Will the business travel corridors be opened beyond anybody except those in countries like Singapore, Japan, and China that’ve had success in controlling the virus?
- Will cruises ever have a long-term chance of hyper-growth and success in Asia, to the countries that were just being introduced to the sector in the last few years?
- Will AirAsia survive this? Is there any chance for Air India or will it shut down and move on from there? Will the long-rumored merger of Emirates and Etihad finally happen? Will we see other national airlines across Asia go through bankruptcies and shut down as well?
- What happens to Bali and the facsimile of Balis around Asia that have developed over the last decade or so in absence of global high spending tourists? Will the Asian island destinations continue to maintain their reputation as long-haul luxury destinations?
- What happens to Hong Kong, short and long term, as a global travel hub?
- How does Singapore survive on local and regional tourism? What happens to Singapore Airlines if it doesn’t have the long-haul routes working for a while to come?
- Will the grand unveiling of Saudi‘s ambitions on the global travel stage ever come to fruition on the scale it hoped to prior to the pandemic?
- Will the Gulf region continue to be the hub of global long-haul travel, and how can the regional economies survive the tourism and oil prices collapse?
- What happens to the nascent but fast growing central Asian adventure travel market in face of the geopolitical issues in the region, in addition to Covid closures?
- How much will local governments continue to support the travel industry in face of a larger economic challenges in many of these countries?