Women Travelers to be Asias New Spending Powerhouse

Travel News Asia 28 January 2005

MasterCard today released a report showing women travelers to be Asias new spending powerhouse.

The report showed that the ratio of male to female travelers in Asia/Pacific has been dramatically shifting from 90:10 (males to females) thirty years ago, to around 60:40 (males to females) today - implying that about 56 million of the 139 million travelers in the region are women. The figure is expected to increase with women travelers matching male travelers by 2011 and exceeding them in the long term.

According to Georgette Tan, vice president, Communications, Asia/Pacific, MasterCard International, Travel statistics are, by and large, country and regions oriented, and rarely reflect gender breakdowns. This report is ground breaking as it provides valuable information on women travelers, the fastest growing market segment for the travel industry. Researching their current role and potential in shaping travel patterns and demands in Asia/Pacific is of crucial importance to the success of the industry as a whole. It is time to focus on women travelers.

Understanding Asian Women


MasterCards Asian Lifestyles Survey that monitors travel attitudes and trends amongst male and female travelers in 13 markets in the Asia/Pacific indicates that 77.5 percent of women consider travel as important for their lifestyles, and 36.7 percent reported that they have taken at least one international flight for personal travel purposes in the past 12 months. The survey also reveals that the most important planning source for women is word of mouth contacts with family, friends and colleagues. The internet and travel agents tied for second and third positions.

Women are also the travel planners. US travel consultant Marybeth Bond reports that for family travel in the USA, 70 percent of travel decisions are made by women. Travel agents in Singapore confirm this figure.

Women as Travelers-Shoppers

While 75 percent of women in the United States take nature, adventure or cultural trips, their Asian counterparts prefer to shop and pamper themselves at spas and resorts.

According to MasterCards Asian Lifestyles Survey, shopping ranks a clear first in terms of preferred travel activities for women. This is followed by visiting places of cultural/ historic interest and beach resorts.

Asian women also differ in their shopping patterns compared to their western counterparts. Shopping as the primary purpose of a holiday does not have such a high priority for women in Europe or the USA, where shopping is perceived much more as a secondary activity and shopping lists consist of mementoes, souvenirs and locally produced crafts. Asian women in contrast, zero in on branded goods, such as apparel, shoes, handbags, accessories, perfumes and other toiletries.

Assuming conservatively that women travelers spend twice as much as men, and that the ratio between men and women travelers will be 50:50 by 2011, the report estimated that US$13.4 billion will be spent by women travelers in four shopping destinations in Asia - Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok.

Travel Habits

Asian women are more family-oriented, placing time with family high on their list of priorities for travel. An interesting pattern is the trend towards mother-daughter and mother-daughter-granddaughter travel in Asia/Pacific. High disposable incomes of one generation combined with travel-savvy planning skills of another generation are sending these intergenerational family teams all over Asia/Pacific to shop, pamper themselves at spas and visit luxury resorts.

Women travelers focus more on physical and psychological safety as compared to men. This includes obtaining information on the location and security of the hotel and destination, and checking on travel agency credentials.

An high emphasis on personal safety may explain why women rate word of mouth as the number one source of information, ahead of travel agents and the Internet. This is in contrast to men who appear to be more likely to use the Internet as their first planning source.

Women Business Travelers

MasterCards Asian Lifestyles Survey data revealed that more women business travelers were younger (aged 30 and below) as compared to men (32.4 percent for men compared to 36.6 percent for women). Men business travelers tend to be older, aged 41 and above (34.4 percent for men compared to 31.1 percent for women). Women business travelers also tend to be single (41.7 percent). 

Asian women business travelers are one of the fastest growing segments of the business travel market. When asked whether or not they would travel more on business in the next twelve months than in the previous twelve months, more women (41.6 percent) than men (39.5 percent) replied yes. This is consistent with trends in North America and Europe.

Commissioned by MasterCard and conducted by the independent research team of Sree Kumar Siddique, the report analyzes the impact of an increasing volume of women travelers within the Asia/Pacific region and sheds light on their travel habits. The report is part of the MasterCard Insights series of ongoing research and analysis of business dynamics, financial policies and regulatory activities in the Asia/Pacific region.

See other recent news regarding: MasterCard

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