Tuesday, 02 July 2024 00:38

AI ‘bias’ warning as experts identify ‘megatrends’, enablers in Asia-Pacific travel

Caroline Bremner Caroline Bremner

The potential for artificial intelligence (AI)  to be manipulated to perpetuate bias and misinformation, especially in travel marketing, has been described as a ‘big concern’ by a travel expert during a recent Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) webinar.

Caroline Bremner, senior head of travel research at Euromonitor International emphasises that AI needs to be used responsibly and carefully as a travel enabler.

‘It is necessary to keep destination information honest and up to date as AI bots perpetually scrape the internet for publicly available data.’

Bremner was speaking on a Navigating the Path to Tourism Recovery panel along with Anyu Liu of Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Noor Ahmad Hamid, CEO of PATA.

Liu addressed whether AI bots are likely to replace tourism forecasters in universities.

‘We did some internal tests to see if ChatGPT could generate more accurate forecasts than us. So far we’re safe,’ he says.

The panel noted consumer preferences and habits that have emerged in the first half of 2024 in an Asia Pacific tourism sector which is recovering from the pandemic years in an uneven manner.

The post-Covid  tourism surge from 2022 was initially powered by more affluent tourists seeking relaxation
amid nature, user convenience, sustainable and authentic local tourism experiences, all enabled by heightened digitisation of travel.

Those trends have since evolved. Megatrends such as value for money, seamless booking and payments, and travel that aligns more to consumer values are now the hallmarks of post-pandemic tourism in the region.

‘Destinations that deliver safety, relaxation, value, good quality food and drink and access to natural attractions will continue to do well,’ says Bremner.

She notes that younger (Gen Z) travellers much preferred personalised, authentic local experiences, with price not so much of a consideration, relative to older baby boomers who seek value.

‘Free cancellations, easy digital payments, reliable user reviews, free upgrades and personalised recommendations (especially from family or friends), turn lookers to bookers, says Bremner.

Hamid says tourism in Asia Pacific could be enhanced by air capacity improvements, better land-based regional connectivity, improved training to attract and retain skilled personnel, and an easing of visa restrictions.