Asia Pacific travel set for ‘strong revival’, according to m1nd-set data

By Kristiane Sherry |

Peter Mohn, Owner & CEO of m1nd-set.

Peter Mohn, Owner & CEO of m1nd-set, speaking at the Travel Retail Consumer Forum.

Air traffic across Asia Pacific is set to see a “strong” revival with many locations reaching pre-pandemic levels in 2024, travel retail research agency m1nd-set has said.

While the region can expect to see a “staggered” return, optimism is running high with m1nd-set B1S / IATA data showing regional 2022 growth of almost 340% to reach 150 million passengers. (Globally international air traffic climbed 140% in 2022.)

“This is still a long way off pre-pandemic traffic levels,” Dr Peter Mohn, m1nd-set CEO said.

“Asia Pacific will not reach pre-pandemic levels until 2025 when traffic will surpass 500 million once again. 

“Over the next three years however, we will continue to see well above-average year-on-year growth in international departures. Asia Pacific will post 75% growth in 2023, compared to the global average of 22%, 46% in 2024 vs 16% globally and 33% in 2025, compared to 13.5% globally.”

New data from the agency shows Tokyo airports Narita and Haneda will be among the first in the region to surpass 2019 passenger numbers. In 2024 they are expected to exceed pre-pandemic traffic by 16% and 27% respectively.

Australia’s Sydney and Melbourne will pass 2019 levels by 6% and 5% respectively next year, while Mumbai will see 1% gains compared to pre-pandemic volumes.

International departures are expected to fully recover to 2019 levels by 2025, according to m1nd-set.

The report also shows the top destinations for Asia Pacific travellers, based on actual traffic through 2022. 

Of the top 20 locations, 13 are within the Asia Pacific region, including Singapore, Bangkok and Seoul.

The top seven destinations further afield were Dubai, Jeddah, Riyadh, Sharjah, Doha, London Heathrow and Los Angeles.  

GTR revenues ‘mixed’

While optimism abounds regarding air travel and there is “hope” of a travel retail revival, “there are mixed results”, according to m1nd-set.

Shoppers are spending more than they did in 2021 and “marginally” more in 2019. Spend per passenger among Asia Pacific duty free shoppers was US$195, up 5% on 2019 and 38% on 2021 figures.

However footfall declined by 50% compared to 2019, with only 54% of those visiting a duty free shop making a purchase in 2022. The conversion rate is 17% lower than in 2019, and 14% lower than in 2021.

Alcohol made its debut into the top five categories for Asia Pacific travellers

Food and confectionery was the most-bought category, with 30% of shoppers making a purchase. This has increased from 26% and second place in 2019. 

Perfumes ranked second in 2022 with 25% making a purchase, a 5% increase from 2019.

Alcohol, which previously had not ranked among the top five most-purchased categories for Asia Pacific customers, was the third most popular in 2022. 17% of travellers from the region bought wine and spirits when travelling.

Tobacco and Skincare moved from third and fourth to fourth and fifth position, with 16% and 14% of shoppers respectively purchasing from the categories. 

Planned purchases increase

According to m1nd-set insights, there’s been a marked increase in planned purchases. In 2019, 25% of shoppers from the region planned to buy a specific product or brand. In 2022 that figure stood at 41%. 

Staff interaction also saw a notable shift. Pre-pandemic, only 52% of shoppers from across Asia Pacific interacted with sales staff. This increased to 80% immediately following restrictions, and remained high at 70% throughout 2022. 

Intra-regional travel is important, followed by the Middle East, London and some US locations.

“It’s imperative that sales staff are informed of the influence they wield so they understand the importance of proactively engaging with passengers,” Mohn continued. 

“The influence which the sales staff have on the purchase decision making process has increased significantly since the pandemic.

“Only just over half of the interactions (54%) influenced the decision to purchase in 2019, whereas more than three quarters (76%) of interactions produced positive results in 2022. 

“It’s not only important for sales associates to have firm product knowledge about the products they are selling but also about whom they are selling to.”

Last week, m1nd-set shared data which showed international departures traffic from the Americas more than doubled in 2022 year-on-year to reach 220 million passengers.

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