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Looking Ahead to Post-Pandemic Travel in Asia with Group Product Director, Juan Paredes

As we look ahead to 2021, eagerly anticipating the restart of travel, we sat down with Destination Asia’s Group Product Director, Juan Paredes, to help us navigate what post-pandemic travel in Asia will look like, which new travel trends we are likely to see, and how Destination Asia is preparing for the future of travel.

How will travellers attitudes towards responsible travel change post-pandemic?

I think that travelling responsibly will become a main priority for most travellers in their decision-making process. In general, travellers and operators should be thinking of how we can travel better in the future, so we should expect to see the rise of sustainability, which must no longer be a niche part of tourism, but rather the new norm for every part of our sector.

At Destination Asia, we have developed four responsible travel themes – Local Engagement, Reduced Footprint, Giving Back, and Immersive Conservation – along with specific criteria, to ensure we can actually put them into practice on the ground. For us, responsible travel is the ideal platform to provide our clients with experiential and meaningful connections that create respect between travellers and local hosts.

What new measures relating to travel in Asia are we likely to see in place?

The emphasis will be on safe travels. At Destination Asia we have already established enhanced operating standards in response to COVID-19 along with communication pieces for our clients. This included implementing new controls and enhanced sanitation procedures, physical distance compliance, adjusting capacities, frequencies and product selection, along with staff training across all 11 countries.

By doing so, we have received the Safe Travel Stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council, which we believe will be very reassuring for our clients once international travel restarts.

What preparations are taking place at Destination Asia to deliver these expected changes and trends?

Over the last few months, we have refreshed our product portfolio and categorised our products into 10 new travel styles which range from classic to offbeat. Our new travel styles are designed to allow for customization and flexibility, two key pillars our clients really appreciate. Alongside we have also classified and developed new products under the four responsible travel themes previously mentioned, all geared around generating greater benefits for local communities and contributing to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage. So keep an eye out for our new travel styles and responsible travel themes which will be launched in January along with a redesigned Agent Hub product selector displaying the revised range of products.

What travel trends do you expect to see in 2021 when international borders open again?

A main travel trend which is already popular and might reign in the short-term is the desire for nature-based, outdoor activities such as hiking, trekking, and cycling. We have also seen strong interest in less-travelled destinations beyond the wild blue yonder. Our new nature & adventure and offbeat travel styles provide ideal travel experiences for clients to connect with the great outdoors or discover hidden gems in secluded destinations.

Alongside we expect the demand for wellness and beach products to continue to grow, and in general, I think that we will be faced with more empowered travellers, who will have more leverage and expect greater value for money, flexibility, and reassurance in terms of health and hygiene. Hopefully, we will also see a general consensus on rebuilding travel better than it was before.

When borders open up where’s the first place you will visit?

That’s a tough one! But I suppose my first trip will probably be to Indonesia since I was meant to visit earlier in the year. I’m really looking forward to hiking to Mount Ijen volcano in East Java; revelling in the exotic combination of remoteness, understated hedonism, and luxury on the island of Sumba; and enjoying some downtime in Bali with my family.

Juan in front of Angkor Wat and enjoying an ice-cold drink during his first visit to Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2010.

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