March 27, 2009 / 4:33 AM / 10 years ago

Travelers will pay for exotic breaks, service: poll

Locals and tourists watch a sunset from Phuket Island's Phromthep Cape in Thailand on March 21, 2005. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Even in these thrifty times, holidaymakers are willing to pay extra for good service as well as the thrill of an exotic destination and another culture, according to a global poll of travelers.

Almost 60 percent of both men and women surveyed voted experiencing another culture as the top item they would spend more on during a vacation.

Hassle-free service, exotic destinations and cultural immersion programs rounded off the list complied by the survey of more than 5,500 people commissioned by credit card company Visa and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

“As time is precious, people want to make the most out of their holidays and so are willing to spend more to have a unique experience that goes off smoothly,” Visa executive and PATA board director Meranda Chan said in a statement.

“Identifying what people are willing to pay more for on holiday gives the travel industry valuable insights into how best to attract tourists,” added Greg Duffell, PATA president and CEO.

The online survey was conducted last August in 11 key markets for Asia Pacific tourism — Australia, China, Taiwan, France, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the United States and Britain.

Australians and Japanese were seen to be the most willing to pay extra for experiencing the local culture, while cultural immersion programs were the most popular among Chinese tourists. More women than men, however, were keen for an exotic destination, the survey showed.

Many airlines and hotels have been hit hard by the global economic slowdown, which has seen more people forgoing holidays altogether or traveling to cheaper destinations closer to home.

Tourism forms a significant source of income for many countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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