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The Future of Global Travel: A New Era of Exploration and Experience

Sep 2023

The forward to the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index 2023 report by Beena Pothen, Country Manager, Malaysia and Brunei for Mastercard, and Navin Jain, President Director, PT Mastercard Indonesia

Across the world, travelers are packing their bags and taking to the skies like never before. And despite the uncertain global economy, international travel is not just catching up to pre-pandemic levels, it is surpassing them.

The Resurgence of Business Travel

Research from the Mastercard Economics Institute shows that by March this year, global leisure flight bookings were up 31% compared to the same month in 2019, driven in no small part by the lifting of travel restrictions across Asia.

Business travel, which initially recovered at a slower pace than leisure travel, has caught up and is now growing at a similar rate – thanks to a return to office culture and a demand for face-to-face business interactions.

With the mainland China market re-opening at the start of this year, releasing a huge pent-up demand for travel for Chinese travelers, this shift from recovery to growth is expected to continue well into 2023 and beyond.

Evolving Traveler Priorities and Destinations

As airports grow in capacity and destinations begin to fill with eager tourists, it is important to see how travel is changing and how that in turn is reshaping today’s travelers.

Our research shows that travelers are prioritizing their spend on experiences - restaurants, recreational activities, and entertainment – over things such as clothing, jewelry, and electronics. Increasingly they are looking for unique experiences that connect them to their passions, especially those that they missed out on when travel was restricted.

We are also seeing travelers explore new locations. Potentially influenced by social media and entertainment, they are landing in lesser-known destinations in search of greater cultural immersion.

These trends are true across all traveler profiles, including the highly influential Muslim traveler. This segment is a hugely important demographic for global travel and for Asia in particular, with countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore topping the list of preferred destinations for Muslim travelers in this year’s Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index.

Mastercard's Commitment to Shaping Travel's Future

Mastercard is deeply committed to supporting the ongoing recovery of global travel and its future growth and expansion. This is why we are excited to continue our collaboration with CrescentRating and to provide the invaluable data and insight that will help the tourism sector and related industries adapt and innovate to meet the needs and expectations of the new global traveler.

Visit this link to download the GMTI 2023 full report!

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