Yearstarter 2023: Travel - Flying ahead to a brighter 2023


Chinese tourists taking selfies in Kuala Lumpur. After a turbulent past few years, the travel industry is looking forward to a much better year ahead. – Filepic: AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

After a turbulent past few years, the travel industry is looking forward to a much better year ahead. Here are some of the trends and developments we will probalby see in the coming year.

Mixing business and leisure

This year, a few trends have already popped up in the world of travel, thanks to data collected from booking sites and platforms, as well as online searches involving travel.

One of these trends is "bleisure travel" – business and leisure – which actually kicked off in late 2020. Bleisure has a lot to do with remote working, and as industries shift towards a hybrid working culture, more people are now able to travel for both work and pleasure at the same time.

In 2023, this trend is set to blaze even further.

Reunions and returns

For some, though, it is all about a reunion of sorts, whether it is reuniting with friends and family, or reuniting with familiar places and experiences.

People who have not been able to travel back to their home country or physically meet family/friends in the past three years are eager to do so this year.

Tourists visiting Sensoji temple, a popular tourist location, in Tokyo. - Photo: AFPTourists visiting Sensoji temple, a popular tourist location, in Tokyo. - Photo: AFP

There are also folks who miss going to their favourite destinations because of the pandemic, and are already planning to return this year.

This is why Japan and Thailand are expected to see their arrival numbers rise fast this year, as these two countries always top the list of "must-visit" countries.

Malaysia, too, usually sits quite high on these lists so hopefully our arrival numbers will keep improving, especially with China relaxing its its overseas travel restrictions from Jan 8.

Budgets and flexibility

Because travel is expensive now, it is not a surprise that more people are searching for budget or cheaper alternatives to, well, everything.

Searches and bookings for medium-range to budget accommodation have increased among solo and couple travellers, while families and larger groups prefer vacation home rentals and home-sharing options.

Also, "flexibility" is a major keyword when it comes to bookings now. More travellers are opting to book flights, ground transport, accommodation and experiences that allow one to reschedule or cancel without paying penalties or extras.

Since the pandemic began, travel has been cancelled, rescheduled or restricted continuously, and travellers have learned so much from this.

Adventure is out there

In Malaysia, the demand for adventure travel will continue to rise, as well as ecotourism activities and experiences.

While this is a good thing, companies and industry stakeholders must also keep in mind the need for more sustainable efforts in tourism. After all, Malaysia's beautiful nature (and great food) is what attracts tourists each year, so we need to be able to keep things as they are for generations to come.

In Malaysia, the demand for adventure travel will continue to rise. – Photo: Tourism MalaysiaIn Malaysia, the demand for adventure travel will continue to rise. – Photo: Tourism Malaysia

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