PETALING JAYA (ANN/THE STAR) – In this day and age where modernity is inevitably displacing cultures and traditions, youths take to travelling as a means to rediscover and reconnect with themselves and their ancestral heritage.
Hilton, through its recently released 2024 Trends Report covering global and Asia Pacific travel trends, dubbed this particular group as the “GenerAsian” travellers, describing them as “Asians who are inspired by self-discovery and have a desire for a deeper understanding of their own cultural and ancestral heritage through travel”.
“Our research found that 77 per cent of Asia Pacific travellers are seeking to better understand their own heritage through travel, with 75 per cent looking to learn more about other Asian cultures,” Ben George, senior vice president and commercial director, Asia Pacific, Hilton, said in a statement.
In its survey on representative samples that included Gen Z (aged 18-26) and Millennial (27-44) travellers, Hilton also determined an inherent connection between culture and cuisine, as Asian travellers value the opportunity to explore local and traditional foods.
“I find it amazing when I see two cultures sharing one thing in common,” said Ann Marie, 25, a Kuala Lumpur native whose wanderlust has taken her to every corner of the world, including the United States, Japan and Spain.
She said this in reference to her recent visit to Bangkok, Thailand with her family. The neighbouring country has been a frequent destination for them, “…primarily due to our profound affection for the delectable Thai cuisine,” she explained.
Ann Marie shared that she had enrolled her family in a cooking class, during which she noted that the Thai approach to making the green chilli paste was reminiscent of her Indian grandmother’s usage of mortar and pestle to grind spices. “It enabled me to appreciate the parallels between my own Indian heritage and Thai culinary practices,” she said.
Kay Ng, 34, also agreed that gastronomical and cultural experiences are important when travelling. The Ipoh native’s most recent trip was to Vietnam, a country known for its rich tapestry of cultural heritage which markedly differs from Malaysia’s own.
“I would like to explore more cultures and cuisines in other Asian countries, such as Indonesia,” she said, additionally listing Korea and Japan as her 2024 destinations.
“Your experiences during travels help to broaden your horizons so you don’t end up being a frog in the well.”
Hilton’s survey has also uncovered four themes that are expected to shape the way the younger generations prioritise their travel needs in 2024 and beyond: Travellers will invest in their sleep, travellers will value connectivity and personalisation, culture and experiences will drive leisure travel decisions, and business travel trends will redefine expectations.
“Most recently, during my business trip to Singapore, I did extend my stay so that I could spend some time with my friends,” said Phoebe Poh, 34, stating that she would love to extend her stay longer during her next business trip, no matter where it may be, in order to explore the local scene more.
She added that she preferred online bookings as it allowed her greater personalisation. “I prefer a free and easy travel, but I also prefer having planned landmarks to visit for each day. So, I would book flight, accommodation and entrance tickets according to my pre-planning.” This is echoed by Ann Marie, who stated her preference for online bookings too so that she would be mentally prepared for her trip.
Ng, meanwhile, mentioned that she preferred booking flights and accommodations online, but not for the activities as plans might change.
“I would raise my food allowance for my trips next year,” Ng stated, while Poh planned to allocate more budget for exploration and adventure.
Ann Marie also shared her plan to travel more in 2024, specifically solo travelling as this allows her to reconnect with herself.
“Solo travelling is something that I want to do again, because it encourages you to examine yourself as you venture out of your comfort zone, meet new people and form new experiences,” she shared.