ASEAN Travellers to Europe Are On a Growth Path Again

ForwardKeys Consulting Company, which analyses data from online booking, predicts a sharp u-turn in outbound travel to Europe from ASEAN countries in the next six months.

ASEAN outbound travel to Europe had a shaky year in 2016 as safety issues fuelled concerns among Asian travellers. Europe is for ASEAN travellers a very important outbound destination. Looking at booking numbers gathered from Forwardkeys Consulting, Europe is the second largest destination market for ASEAN travellers. They represent 12.2% of all booking from November 2015 to October 2016, behind Asia which represent 69.4% of all bookings.

However, 2016 will stay as a challenging year for Europe tourism. Between November 2015 and October 2016, terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, Nice and Istanbul gave to Asian travellers the feeling that Europe was turning unsafe for travel. The impression was once more reinforced before Christmas with a new terrorist attack at a Berlin Christmas Market. They were also many reports about aborted attempts all across the continent, and more specifically in Western Europe.

In its research, ForwardKeys indicated that during the period November 2015/October 2016, total booking by ASEAN travellers went up by just 1%.  Some destinations were particularly affected: in its reearch ForwardKeys recorded a decline of 14% to France compared to the same period of 2014/15 followed by Germany, down by a more modest 1.6% and Italy progressing by only 0.5%.

Looking at outbound market by each ASEAN members, Brunei and Cambodia recorded the largest decline in booking by 15% and 14%. However both markets are small players representing together only 1.8% of all booked trips to the European continent. More worrying is the decline from Thailand at -2.8% as the thai oubtound market is ASEAN largest to Europe with a market share of almost 23%. Thailand fall has been however compensated by growth from the Philippines –up by 5.5%, Indonesia –up by 4.6% and Malaysia (+2.3%). Within the next five years, Indonesia is likely to become the largest ASEAN outbound market to Europe.

ForwardKeys is meanwhile optimistic for the near future when analysing booking trends until April 2017. Numbers however did not integrated yet the possible impact of berlin attack in late December. the consulting company sees an acceleration of the growth in booking for the period between November 2016 and April 2017, up by 9.6%.

They are however shifting trends within Europe regarding destinations. Northern Europe -especially Scandinavia- and Central Europe are up as both regions are perceived as safe destinations and remain also relatively unknown by ASEAN travellers.  Booking trends to Central Europe show a growth of 49%, while Northern Europe is up by 20%. Southern Europe does relatively well, up by 8.4% with strong growth to Portugal and Spain.

Western Europe continues to be avoided by ASEAN travellers, with booking down by 0.1%. Berlin terrorist attack shoudl probably deepen the negative perception in the short term.

By ASEAN countries, only Malaysia and Brunei continue to show negative trends. Malaysian booking to Europe is down by 24% followed by Brunei down by 14%. Although numbers from Brunei remain insignificant due to the very small market share, Malaysian travellers remain cautious due to the declining value of the Malaysian Ringgit and also a shortage of direct flights to Europe following Malaysia Airlines restructuring 18 months ago and the termination of many direct flights of European carriers.

By contrary Indonesia confirms its emergence as a major market with booking up by 38% while Thailand is recovering with booking up by 21% during the period November 2016-April 2017. Vietnam and Singapore are also expanding with respective growth rates in booking of 9.3% and 8.6%.