Alta Thoughts (December 2022)
By Rakesh Patel
Hope you are well and perhaps looking forward to some festive travel for the first time in a couple of years.
I have just finished a trip to Hong Kong and good to see that the last Covid entry rules are being lifted. This will help repair some of Hong Kong’s visitor trade imbalance. Tourists and short-term business travellers have been staying away, whilst HKers are flocking out of the country for their first holidays and business trips in over two years. According to the HK Census and Statistics Department, between July and September, there were 173,695 inbound trips vs 476,580 outbound trips (some of this is one-way leavers). In 2018, there were 65m in-bound visitors. The lifting of the rules will no doubt see a long-awaited return of that travel and business hub vibrancy.
I am heading to London via Thailand. There should be 10m visitors to the Land of Smiles in 2022. Still well below the 40m in 2019, but nonetheless up multiple fold from last year. Some commentators are expecting 20m+ visitors in 2023, especially as China eases travel restrictions. If you are in the UK over December/January, do reach out and I am happy to meet up again.
Here are a few of our recent comments posted on LinkedIn. As always, good to hear your feedback and exchange ideas.
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Have a Happy Xmas and New Year, and let’s all look forward to more “pain-free” travel in 2023!
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Many people became digital nomads during Covid through necessity, rather than desire. Now we are past the proof-of-concept stage, and with multiple governments now offering long-term visa programmes, this will only encourage further nomadism.
“Living like a local” is becoming more than eating local food — travellers increasingly want more. In fact, in a survey by GetYourGuide, two-thirds of millennial respondents are specifically looking for an immersive, authentic experience.
Linked to this, more travellers want to travel responsibly. 70% of people surveyed by Virtuoso, responded that traveling sustainably enhances their experience. As the gap blurs between locals in their local environment and tourists seeking local immersion, the impact becomes more obvious and must be managed.
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Living well in Thailand. The country has emerged as a leader in medical and holistic wellness. The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) latest research shows that pre-Covid, Thailand’s wellness economy was growing at a rapid 29% p.a. until 2019. A lot of this was driven by in-bound wellness trips, where overall revenues were almost 4x that of domestic trips, with the average spend per trip being 10x as large.
Thailand’s wellness tourism market is the 4th largest in Asia (after China, Japan, and India). As the Thai government continues to prioritise this sector, GWI expects growth to rebound post-Covid in Thailand, and for the overall global wellness industry to grow to $7 trillion by 2025 from $4.9 trillion in 2019.
Wellness in Thailand – Global Wellness Institute
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The ESG agenda has been moved off the front page in face of the pain and pragmatism of dealing with rising energy prices and other macro shocks. Given this, McKinsey & Company poses the question: does ESG really matter?
Objections to ESG are numerous and not new: it’s a distraction, not feasible, not measurable, there is limited correlation to financial performance. There is some validity in these objections, and there is certainly more work to do. However, the criticisms underplay the value of social license.
By failing to adequately manage externalities, and losing the trust of consumers, employees, suppliers, regulators, and other stakeholders, corporates may find it harder to deliver on forecasts, core strategies and positive long-term value creation. Hence, the imperative for companies to earn and retain their social license.
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