By ITB Asia News
In his keynote speech at ITB Asia 2022, Rajeev Menon, President Asia Pacific (Excluding Greater China) of Marriott International, explained how the pandemic had at least one positive effect—it reaffirmed the importance of travel.
Post-COVID border re-openings have translated into an even stronger rebound for tourism than predicted. This was the optimistic message delivered by Rajeev Menon. “Many believed that travel would not recover before 2024 and meetings would disappear and be replaced by virtual means. But actually, COVID has reaffirmed the power of travel,” he explained during his speech.
While Asia has been slightly slower to reopen, those which have opened earlier in Asia Pacific region, such as the Maldives and Singapore, have made a rapid recovery.
Meanwhile, the crisis has accelerated some existing trends and lead to the emergence of new ones. “I see three elements of evolution,” said Menon. “The first evolution is hyper-localisation. As people tend to travel more locally, we increasingly recognise the power of local companies. We developed new partnerships with companies working with domestic markets, for example with online shopping company Rakuten which has 15 million members in the Japanese market”, he added.
The second strong element is the fact that companies who put people first in their business development are more likely to survive. “It is what we do for people in bad times—not in good times—that counts. Companies with a strong people-culture are ultimately the winners!”
Finally the sense of innovation and the sense of sustainability are decisive. “New ideas inspire people to travel, as well as sustainability. Many travellers want to give back to communities. Sustainability is playing an increasingly crucial role”, he added.