ACCORDING to data published by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on Indonesia’s tourism sector. This can be seen from the drastic decline in foreign tourists, from 4 million tourists in 2020 to only 1.5 million tourists in 2021 (down 61.57%).

However, along with the improving conditions of the pandemic in Indonesia, tourism activities in Indonesia are slowly starting to return to normal. In March 2022, demand for visits to Indonesia almost fully recovered, reaching 94% compared to the beginning of the pandemic.

To that end, Xendit, a payment gateway company that has partnered with various online travel agency companies, describes 6 trends and post-pandemic tourism business opportunities that industry players can take advantage of:

Business trip upgrade
Business travel is predicted to see a steady increase this year, but it hasn’t reached pre-pandemic levels. According to SAP Concur data, 68% of business travelers worldwide plan to travel on business in 2022.

Many companies have implemented work-from-office (WFO) policies, although some have implemented work-from-anywhere (WFA) policies. This can be seen from employees returning to the office, clients and vendors returning to face-to-face meetings, and social restrictions that have been lifted.

Corporate spending on business travel is expected to match 36% of the 2019 (pre-pandemic) budget in Q2 2022, and will continue to increase to reach 55% by the end of the year. Based on data from Deloitte, this business travel spending figure will return to its pre-pandemic normal level within the next two years.

Opportunity: Collaborate with corporate clients to offer special discounts and package deals to win over the market. As a result of the policy of working remotely, there is an increasing trend of workstations (work and vacation).

Currently, tourists want to vacation with a longer period of time. One of the proofs is that holiday accommodation bookings among Southeast Asian tourists have increased by more than 1,000% from year to year. This is supported by the fact that 16% of companies worldwide have implemented remote work, many companies are implementing work-from-anywhere and the increasing number of digital nomads, namely employees who choose to work and vacation with workstations.

Opportunities: Hold special promotions for long-term stays (weekly or monthly rates), expand holiday accommodation options, ensure availability of employee-friendly accommodations, such as WiFi and work-enabled facilities.

The importance of sanitation and easy availability of safety information
During the pandemic, tourists are spending more time preparing vacation plans that are safer from unexpected events. They are worried about the transmission of COVID or sudden changes in plans due to the regulation of mobility restrictions in certain countries.

Because of this, Google also recorded a sharp increase (more than 165%) for keyword searches related to “travel insurance”, especially in Southeast Asia. Tourists are also looking for ways to reduce direct contact during the holidays. For example, based on data from Amadeus, 41% of tourists use self-service check-in, 41% prefer to make cashless payments, and 40% choose tourism services that are more flexible to cancellations or schedule changes.

Opportunity: Tourism service providers can offer insurance, or assist tourists in qualifying travel to certain countries. They can also offer easy and flexible cancellations, as well as self check-in counters.

More and more tourists are liking eco-friendly holidays
The 2021 Sustainable Travel Report from found that 83% of the 29,000 respondents thought eco-friendly vacations were very important. In addition, 61% of tourists also plan to travel more environmentally friendly due to the pandemic.

Opportunity: Offer eco-friendly tour packages
More and more tourists are taking luxury trips as a form of “revenge”. Expedia calls 2022 the year of the GOAT (greatest of all trips). Of the 12,000 tourists in 12 countries surveyed, 65% of them plan to prepare an extra budget to plan their next trip.

Opportunity: Offer luxury tour packages, or airline tickets with special bonus rates for luxury hotels.

Domestic tourism and rural locations are preferred
A recent survey by AirBnB revealed that more than half (57.6%) of travelers across Asia-Pacific are planning to spend more on domestic or domestic tourism. This happens due to various factors such as: (1). Travelers tend to be more cautious because of the pandemic and a lot of uncertainty, (2). Domestic tourism is more targeted because tourists are worried about facing difficulties while on vacation abroad, (3). The population in rural areas is generally smaller, reducing the chances of contracting COVID-19.

Opportunity: Offering tours and packages in more remote and less crowded areas
According to Xendit data, by far the most widely used payment methods by tourists are virtual accounts (>26%), QR Code (>25%), e-wallets (>20%), retail outlets or over the counter (>20%) , and credit cards as much as more than 4%. During the period June 2021-2022, there was 2x growth of Xendit merchants in the tourism category with TPV growth of 300% YoY and TXN growth of 500% YoY for tourism merchants.

Xendit is committed to offering merchants as well as tourists convenience in conducting digital transactions by accepting international payments, integration with booking engines and websites to enable a seamless payment experience.

With tourism recovering and changing tourist demand, there are many new opportunities that players in the tourism industry can take advantage of – so that they can thrive again after the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Tessa Wijaya, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Xendit, said that we will make every effort to support a smooth and seamless digital transformation for our merchants and consumers, both in Indonesia and the Philippines.

“We are also aware that transparency has an important role in the development of digital payment transactions which has been manifested in our various features available in the application. Xendit hopes that more companies will take advantage of this growth opportunity so that the tourism sector can bounce back soon,” she concluded. [sources/photo special]