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Pacific Asia Watch
PATA: Asia Dominates Asia/Pacific Tourism Board

Preliminary results released by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) showed that international visitor arrivals into Asia/Pacific destinations grew by 6% year-on-year in June 2011. The positive momentum of the previous months held strong for Southeast Asia, which led the region with 15.5% growth during the month of June. The rebound in arrivals to Thailand (+54%) positively impacted this overall result, strongly supported by the other reporting destinations in this sub-region all of which enjoyed double-digit growth. This in turn was supported by strong travel demand within ASEAN and an increase in arrivals from China.

International arrivals growth to South Asia was a robust 12% in June, boosted by double-digit increases in inbound numbers to Nepal (+38%), the Maldives (+27%) and Sri Lanka (+20%). India maintained the same pace of growth seen in the previous month at 7%. European arrivals are amongst the main contributors to this growth.

Northeast Asia saw an improvement after posting slow growth of 0.6% in May, with a 3.7% increase in arrivals for June 2011. This growth, however, was very unevenly distributed among destinations in the sub-region. Tourism demand to Japan continued to recover, reducing losses in inbound arrivals from -63% in April to -50% in May and -36% in June. Chinese Taipei (-2%) and China (+1%) registered weak results while Hong Kong SAR (+16%), Macau SAR (+15%) and Korea (ROK) (+11%) enjoyed buoyant growth for the month, supported by the key origin market of China.

It should be remembered that even though the percentage growth rate may be relatively weaker than for other sub-regions, the sheer volume of arrivals to Northeast Asia means that 3.7% growth directly translates into more than 600,000 additional arrivals for the month. International Arrivals to the Pacific recorded an aggregate decline of 4% in June. The main destinations of Australia (-4%) and New Zealand (-10%) showed significant decreases compared to the corresponding period last year. This downturn was caused - in part at least - by the ash cloud disruption to air travel from the Chilean volcano together with the continued effects of the earthquake in Christchurch. Nevertheless, some Pacific Island nations still managed to show positive growth, especially Palau (+63%), Vanuatu (+27%), Tahiti (+19%), Papua New Guinea (+16%), New Caledonia (+11%) and Cook Island (+8%).

January to June 2011
Of the 31 destinations reporting half-year arrivals (January to June 2011), 26 indicted positive growth, with 14 showing double-digit gains. Clear growth leaders over this period were Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand with gains of 37%, 29% and 28% respectively (January to June, year-on-year). Collectively, these 31 destinations generated growth of 5.3% for the Asia/Pacific region during the first half of 2011. Even with the loss of almost 1.4 million arrivals to Japan, this cluster of destinations collectively not only countered that contraction but managed to add enough additional arrivals to the collective count to post a year-on-year gain of more than eight million international arrivals.

Kris Lim, director of PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre, said: “The first-half year growth of around 5%, given the challenges the industry has faced so far this year underlines the resilience of travel and tourism in the Asia/Pacific region. The comparatively weaker economies of the USA and Europe mean that much of this growth has had to come from intra-regional travel and this in turn has only been possible because of the stronger regional economies and the continued expansion of airline seat capacity within the region.”

Lim added that at the current rate of growth, overall arrivals to the region will push to the 433 million mark by the end of the year, up from 408 million last year. The majority of the Asia/Pacific destinations will once again look at record numbers of arrivals, led by South Asia and Southeast Asia destinations in terms of percentage growth.

“While European arrivals remain key to South Asia’s growth, Southeast Asia will be driven by the rapidly growing China and India outbound markets while Northeast Asia is expected to see strong gains in arrivals from Southeast Asia driven by the steadily growing LCC network,” said Lim.

Asia/Pacific is defined as including the following sub-regions for the purposes of press releases:
  • Northeast Asia = China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Korea (ROK), Macau SAR and Mongolia
  • Southeast Asia = Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam
  • South Asia = Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
  • The Pacific = Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand. Marianas, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu
Results are preliminary; estimates are used for missing data. All comparative figures are year-on-year unless otherwise stated. For more market trends and insights, please visit