SINGAPORE, 26 January 2021: Discova recently conducted a
sentiment survey to collect insights into 2021 travel from its partners
(including travel agents, tour operators, OTAs, wholesalers) from the UK,
Australia, the USA, Asia and other markets. Around 200 partners took the
survey.

Thailand and Mexico beaches

Among Discova’s Americas destinations, Mexico was
overwhelmingly selected by Discova’s partners (51% of respondents) as the
destination their customers will first choose to travel to. Mexico was
particularly popular with partners from the UK and the USA.

In Asia, Thailand was our partners’ first choice, with 39%
of respondents, followed by Japan with 24% of respondents, confirming the
popularity of both destinations for the UK and European travellers in
particular.

Thailand and Mexico are famous for their beach destinations,
and partners expect them to be the most popular type of experience when
international travel restarts, with 72% making traditional flop-and-drop
holidays their predicted big seller.

Experiential and private touring travel

In addition, partners expect that their travellers will be
looking for natural immersion adventures and off-the-beaten-track experiences,
with 57% and 45% of respondents respectively.

“The demand for nature escapes is growing, travellers are
looking for seclusion and want to reconnect with nature, away from the crowds.
We’ve anticipated this trend and have been ramping up our product offering in
key adventure destinations like Borneo or Costa Rica where we now offer
multi-day touring,” said Discova managing director  Suyin Lee.

In addition, when asked whether travellers would be more
interested in join-in tours or private tailor-made touring, an overwhelming 76%
opted for private.

“Travellers are increasingly looking for a personalized
travel experience, they want to explore a destination on their own terms, which
confirms that FIT will continue to make up a larger part of our business when
international borders reopen,” added Lee.

Vaccine availability key to restart travel

When asked what they think will trigger the return of travel
bookings in a significant way, partners primarily see the availability of a
vaccine in their home countries as the critical factor (70% of respondents)
followed by the easing of quarantine rules at destination (55%), the lifting of
travel advisories by governments (53%), and the reopening of borders (53%).

When considering what will drive their travellers’ choice of
destination moving forward, 80% of partners believe that having flexible
booking conditions is important while 77% consider that how a destination has
handled the coronavirus crisis is key.

“Our partners are telling us that their travellers will be
looking to minimize risks related to COVID when international borders reopen.
Travellers can do so by selecting a destination where the sanitary situation is
considered under control and by being covered by a flexible booking in case of
any change of government advisory to/in the destination,” Lee noted.

Partner expectations

When asked “what are the three most important things you expect from a DMC as international travel restarts”, partners selected flexible booking conditions first, followed by financial stability and destination knowledge.

More than ever, partners expect their DMC to provide
on-the-ground expertise and knowledge, in particular, clear information on
Covid-related travel requirements prior to travel (including pre-flight PCR
testing, vaccine or insurance requirements, etc.) and clear information on
Covid-related touring requirements (mandatory masks, mandatory track and trace
apps and capacity ceilings on group gatherings.

Discova is a global destination management specialist
operating in 14 markets in Asia and South America.