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See your own country before going abroad?!

November 27, 2013

Wego the leading travel metasearch site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, today revealed the results of a study showing just how much travellers are torn between seeing their own country first, and then the rest of the world.

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Over 1,000 respondents from Wego’s core markets in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, India and Australia participated in the survey which asked whether you should see your own country first before travelling internationally. Asian countries, on the most part, felt a strong responsibility in seeing their own countries prior to venturing abroad.

The majority of responses gathered from Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia (80 percent) felt that their own countries were so culturally diverse that it was generally unnecessary to travel beyond their own borders to experience others. There was also a consensus that it was not possible to truly appreciate other cultures before understanding your own.

Australian’s were almost split down the middle (70 percent voted yes to travelling at home first) and passionately expressive about their thoughts on the subject. However the cost of travelling domestically in comparison to internationally, especially value options in Southeast Asia, was a big plus for the overseas vote.

One Aussie relayed that he’d just had a two week stay in Turkey for the same price as one week in Queenstown with flights and hotels included.  Another expressed her ‘huge frustration’ that a two week holiday in Thailand is cheaper than a weekend getaway in Queensland. One Perth resident expressed his dismay that it’s cheaper to fly to Hong Kong and Singapore than the eastern states of Australia.

“International travel providers, including airlines, are becoming increasingly competitive in today’s online environment,” said Joachim Holte, Chief Marketing Officer for Wego. “There are some rather inviting and accessible travel deals out there that directly challenge the domestic tourism industry.”

Not surprisingly Australia’s expansive size and unique natural beauty was a big draw card for the ‘yes’ team, and the sentiment to appreciate your own country first, even to ensure you could act as a ‘good ambassador’ for the country when you do venture internationally, was important to many.

One respondent countered this view saying that you can’t appreciate your own ‘backyard’ until you meet people and cultures who offer you an insight into something completely new. Another commented that seeing your own country first ‘allows one to sensibly answer questions regarding your own country’.

Another interesting observation was those that expressed the difficulty to travel internationally at an older age. A few people recommended that exploring the world was for the young, and there’s plenty of time to see your own country and join the ‘grey nomads’ later.

Responses from the Philippines, while favouring domestic exploration citing the enormous variety of cultural approaches, destinations, food, even political differences, celebrated the spirit of the country with one respondent rather prophetically proclaiming that; “The Philippines is great and fun despite all odds!! Filipinos have a brighter outlook on life and can smile even through problems with all our coming and going of calamities!”

Indians believed that their country’s spiritual, historic and cultural offerings were a reference point for making comparisons while travelling abroad. One respondent stating that travelling in the ‘developed world’ provided him with a better understanding and urge to ‘bring in good practices and civic sensibility’ in India. Another expressed that in a country like India, ‘you very quickly learn that beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. The majority, however, ruled for domestic before international travel.

Indonesians who were the largest number of respondents to the survey, overwhelmingly voting 90 percent for domestic travel citing the vast natural beauty of their country, and similarly to other SEA responses, diversity of culture.

“We’ve witnessed firsthand at Wego Indonesia the travel evolution currently taking place in this country, as travellers are more frequently discovering the enormous variety of stunning destinations, beyond, but definitely still including, Bali,” added Graham Hills, Managing Director of Wego Indonesia.

While embracing what Indonesia has to offer as a destination was uniformly supported, many commented on their desire for the country’s infrastructure and tourism industry overall to be of a higher standard and quality. Local transport, public facilities and travel information were all mentioned as requiring improvement.

In general Indonesians were impressed with the friendly and helpful nature of their fellow countrymen while they travelled, but similarly to the Australians a small number felt you couldn’t truly appreciate your own country until seeing others.

“Interestingly there was a consistency throughout that deciding to travel abroad was fine when a great travel deal was available, but otherwise travellers are currently very much in love with their own countries and wish to explore them a lot more,” Holte continued. “Domestic flight searches over the last 12 months on Wego steadily increased in India and Australia. Overall, international flight searches account for almost double the amount of domestic searches across all of these regions.”

“The responses were of an incredible variety however we were surprised with participants as far away as Greece and Japan who voted domestic travel over international,” added Holte. “Overall there was a universal sense of duty and patriotic responsibility, to explore the land you were born in, while others too acknowledged the value of appreciating cultural diversity in other countries as essential to personal growth.”

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