The Asian Mojo; the leading economies become the nerve centre of travel tech growth in the region

According to Doughlas Quinby, Vice President (Research), PhocusWright, Asia has become the fastest growing online travel region in the world and there are evident catalysts to further consolidate this trend.

111Like the other spheres of global economy, when it comes to travel and tourism trade, the Asian countries have increasingly been cruising to the commanding position since the turn of the century. And much of this transformation is also reflecting in the kind of travel related technological innovations which have been noticed in the region. With growing internet penetration and the explosive growth in the mobile segment in countries like China and India, the online processes deployed in travel transaction have significantly changed over the years. “When it comes to travel business, the global centre of gravity is shifting towards Asia,” said Doughlas Quinby, Vice President (Research), PhocusWright while making his extensive presentation on the opening day of the inaugural conference of the agency in India.

To underline the tremendous growth in scale vis-à-vis online functionalities in travel trade, Douglas quoted from a specific report which PhocusWright had released way back in 2002. According to the findings of that report, the total worth of online travel business in Asia-Pacific region stood at $4.8 billion. Around the turn of the century, the online travel bookings in the world’s largest market was pegged at $28 billion. But the scene has dramatically changed since then with the online travel booking in APAC now rising to $137 billion (estimates for 2016), within the striking distance of the market leader ( the US) which is expected to register a total online business of $146 billion. There has been a serious change in the top ten markets list in the stated period too. For instance, India did not figure in that list 15 years back but now it has a seven percent market share in the total online travel trade pie of the world. The period has also seen phenomenal rise of tech centric companies like C-Trip, the noted Chinese OTA which had a mere revenue base of $5 million in 2001. But now its revenue base has shot up to a staggering $1.8 billion.

“Questions are being asked as what is the future of online travel in Asia- Pacific? Our own assessment is: APAC as a regional market is the fastest growing segment of the global online travel space. It is growing three times more than the US twice of the growth noticed in Europe in the recent years. Online penetration though is low, in APAC it is over 30 percent whereas in US and Europe, it is close to 50 percent when it comes to travel related transactions,” Doughlas explained.

There is another critical statistic which amply highlights the fact that the balance of technological innovations in travel trade business is swinging towards Asia. “In the period between 2005-09, 25 percent of global travel start-up funding had gone to Asia. Today it is close to 51 percent. The tremendous increase in the fresh funds routed to the region for technological innovations in travel space itself tells the story how this region is now playing a pivotal role,” emphasised Doughlas. 

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