Travel And Tour World – What is your message on the World Tourism Day?
Mario Hardy: The world is seeing dramatic social, political, environmental and economic changes, particularly in relation to the potentially irreversible damage to our planet caused by climate change. Against this backdrop, there is an urgent need to work towards the development of a more responsible and sustainable travel and tourism industry.
Travel And Tour World: How do you intend to contribute to world tourism and wish to celebrate World Tourism Day?
Mario Hardy: On a personal note, I am doing probably one of the most appropriate things on this day and that is renewing my passport! On a serious note, World Tourism Day for me represents a day of reflection, a day when we should stop to think of what our industry has achieved in the past year and the opportunities and challenges ahead.
Travel And Tour World: What will be the future trend in tourism considering the continuously growing online world and changing consumer preference?
Mario Hardy: Due to the increase in technological advancements, I can foresee an increase in the development of more personalised services using artificial intelligence (AI) to better understand the preferences of travellers. We are already seeing the hints of that when we make purchases today and this will only increase in the future.
Travel And Tour World – Are women more inclined towards solo travel then men in Asia?
Mario Hardy: I do not have any comparison data between genders. However, from what I have read and observed while travelling, I would say that we are seeing an increase in female solo travel and searches for “solo female travel” grew by 52% between 2016 and 2017.
Travel And Tour World – In the wake of recent collapse of Thomas Cook, what do you think will be the future of tour operators?
Mario Hardy: The collapse of an iconic brand such as Thomas Cook is a sad moment for our industry. However, this is like only the beginning of a difficult road ahead for large tour operators who have failed to adapt to the constantly evolving marketplace. There is a place for tour operators and more traditional travel agencies, but they need to diversify their product offering and tailor them to the needs of a younger and more dynamic generation.Innovation and personalisation are the key ideas and they need to consider moving forward.
Travel And Tour World – In the years ahead what changes can we expect in the travellers preference in the Asia Pacific region?
Mario Hardy: It is hard to predict what will be the wishes and desires of travellers in the next 20 years, as our world is moving at such a rapid pace. At the moment authentic and local experiences are the buzz words, but, if I had to take a guess, I would say in 20 years people will be looking to experience nature away from the crowds, polluted cities and their busy city lives.
Travel And Tour World – The tourists arrivals in the Asia Pacific region is expected to reach 535 million by 2030. What will drive this growth and which region will have the maximum footfall?
Mario Hardy: The continuous increase in disposable income will drive the increase in travel in the coming years. China and India will continue to lead the way in the number of outbound travellers, followed by Indonesia and Vietnam.
Travel And Tour World – Will the Chinese outbound travellers still remain as one of the biggest contributors in world tourism?
Mario Hardy: Yes, most definitely. Only 8.7% of the Chinese population have a passport and according to a report by COTRI written a few years ago, more than 280 million Chinese have the means to travel overseas but are yet to travel.