Alta blog

Alta Thoughts (April 2024)

By Rakesh Patel

My recent trip to Sri Lanka reminded me of the breadth of beautiful experiences the island has to offer, across the tea county, beaches, sacred Bhuddist sites, wildlife parks, not to mention the food! At the same time, you can’t ignore the macro punches the country has taken over the decades from the war, terrorist attack, Covid and now an IMF bailout and debt restructuring.

Despite this, the picture on the ground is one of a functioning country. The hotel industry is recovering steadily. Tourist visitor numbers this year are forecast to recover to the 2018 peak of 2.5m, though dollars spent has been more modest at $2bn. International hospitality icons like Adrian Zecha are partnering on local projects. And our brand, Teardrop Hotels (a separate asset to the Fund), continues to receive plaudits – the latest being three hotels recognised in the Conde Nest best hotels in Sri Lanka list.

Here are a few of our recent thoughts posted on LinkedIn. Always good to hear your feedback and exchange ideas. You can follow us directly on LinkedIn and go to our website.


The promise of travel in the age of AI

Digital technology and artificial intelligence is set to trigger a new “golden age” of travel, as we saw with the jet engine in the 1950s and dot-com period of the 1990s. Technology is helping travel companies reset how they interact with customers, deliver products and services, and empower their workforce.

With travel forecast to grow at 5.8% CAGR to 2032 (double the rate of the overall economy), and customer digital adoption and acceptance growing exponentially through Covid, there is an opportunity for companies to act and deliver digitally. McKinsey estimates that earning can rise 15-25% for companies that embrace technology.

This digital adoption can take many forms including knowing your customer and hyper-segmentation, designing services to allow trip personalisation and frictionless travel, and augmenting employee frontline capacity and upskilling talent.


Taking off: Will 2024 be the year Chinese travellers return to international air travel?

2024 is meant to be the year that Chinese travellers finally return in force, but it’s a mixed picture thus far. What is going on? It’s a combination of demand and supply factors.

OAG forecasts that global carrier seat numbers this year will surpass 2019 levels, but China will still be 30% below for international seats. This matters, as pre-pandemic the Chinese were the biggest spenders on international travel.

The demand side is clearly under pressure, with a softer Chinese economy and weaker yuan, impacting appetite to travel. Airline capacity is also an issue, with China-Europe routing half what it was in 2019, and Western airlines forced to avoid Russian air space.

But it’s not all bad news. Regional travel is bouncing back, as the Chinese build back their travel confidence with shorter-haul routes. Top 3 travel destinations in Asia so far are Japan, Thailand and South Korea.


4 Top Luxury Travel Trends

Forbes is switched on when it’s comes to their followers and luxury travel. Their recent 2024 summit pointed to several trends, one of which stood out.

Well-being is not just a fad, it’s fundamentally changed the way people think about travel. The trend is beyond spas and gyms, into fully immersive retreats, mind and body experiences, and medical/holistic wellness services.

And with 97% of hotel chain CEOs saying that wellness and well-being is important to the future of travel and hospitality, expect more evolution to come.