Singaporeans are among the most well-travelled in the world with close to 9.5 million overseas trips reported in 2016, according to Google updated Asia Pacific Travel Dashboard that revealed the top search trends in Singapore and 12 countries across Asia Pacific over the last year. The dashboard also uncovers the top travel habits and trends of Singaporeans including the most popular destinations, common search terms, and factors Singaporean travellers consider before planning to go on a getaway.
Ryan Ferguson, Travel Lead for Asia Pacific, Google said, “Travel continues to be a fast-growing sector across Asia Pacific countries. We’ve seen travellers in Asia turn to Google search at various stages of their holiday planning driving a 26% increase in searches for hotels year on year, while searches for the air sector grew 13%. With the refresh of our Asia Pacific Travel Dashboard, we hope to work with travel businesses to bring greater value and more relevant content to meet the evolving needs of discerning travellers in the region.”
Asia Pacific travellers turn to search while planning their travels
Travel searches in the region grew 11% year on year with a particularly strong growth rate in emerging markets such as India (+40% YoY) and Vietnam (+26% YoY). In Asia Pacific, mobile is fast becoming the preferred platform to make travel-related searches as people continue to explore travel option on the go. Google saw a 26% increase in mobile searches in Asia Pacific across various travel categories such as destinations, flight and accommodation options, travel packages, and activities to fill their itineraries.
Singaporean travellers are open to trying new brands
Closer to home, interest for travel continues to grow, and travel-related searches increased by five per cent in 2016. Searches peaked during the June and December holiday seasons, with a four per cent dip in travel queries seen in the first quarter of 2017.
Travel related search in Singapore [Jan 2014 - Mar 2017]
Searches on Google show that 67% of people in Singapore do not have a brand in mind when searching for travel-related queries during the early planning stages of their trips. They start searching for preferred brands when they are narrowing down their choices or when they are ready to book. This provides an opportunity to travel advertisers to capture their attention during the planning phase, when they are open to brand suggestions.
Singaporeans prefer shorter travels
Of the top 10 destinations searched by Singaporeans, nine are located in Asia as they provide affordable and accessible getaways instead of taking long-haul flights to Europe or the United States. Bangkok currently holds the honour as the most searched-for destination, as Singaporeans continue to flock to the Land of a Thousand Smiles for delicious local fare and affordable shopping, followed by Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Batam, London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo and Seoul.
Other countries in Southeast Asia also showed a similar interest in Vietnam as a tourist destination. Interest in Vietnam increased 14% year on year, and top choices of destinations to visit in the country are Ho Chih Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang. Interest in Phú Quốc Island has also surged by 40% in the last year, as it becomes more appealing as a tourist spot with its pristine beaches and luxury resorts development.
Singaporeans need a break - not necessarily a holiday
While overseas travel make up 61% of searches, a significant 39% of searches by Singaporeans relate to local attractions - indicating that Singaporeans aren’t just looking overseas for a quick getaway.
The concept of staycations - where people stay at a hotel or vacation rental in their own country - is highly popular in Singapore, surpassing interest in other countries such as Philippines and Malaysia.
“Staycation” Search Query Trend
Unsurprisingly, staycations are particularly popular in years with many long weekends. However, compared to overseas vacations which requires more deliberate planning, decisions to book a local hotel are usually made in the spur of the moment, as people only tend to look for staycation options on the Monday immediately before the long weekend.
Aside from staycations, Singaporeans also research other interesting venues to escape during the weekends. Local attractions that have successfully drawn the interest of Singaporean audiences are:
1. Gardens by the Bay
2. Universal Studio Singapore
3. Singapore Zoo
4. Art Science Museum
5. National Gallery Singapore
6. Singapore Flyer
7. S.E.A. Aquarium
8. Adventure Cove
9. River Safari
10. Singapore Art Museum
This trend of Singaporeans being tourists in their own backyard highlights the strength of Singapore as one of the top travel destinations in Asia Pacific that appeals to both locals and tourists alike. It emphasises the role of local audiences as an important consumer group, and the need for local attractions and travel businesses to deepen their engagement with consumers closer to home to keep their attractions relevant.