Asian Middle Classes drive US growth

It isn’t just Asia’s size but its thirst to explore the world that is driving inbound travel growth to the US, according to PATA President and CEO, Peter de Jong.  Addressing PATA’s North American AGM last week Mr de Jong added: “An accelerating global economy, much of it driven by Asia Pacific, has resulted in increased trade links between this region and North America, together with an Asian population more engaged in discretionary spending.”
    “Although it can be argued that the potential of Asia is strictly a case of having a population of 4 billion, the growing middle class with increasing disposable incomes and a thirst to explore the world at large provides a convincing story.”
    Mr de Jong also cited cultural and family ties for the increasing inbound traffic from Asia.
    “With over 100 years of Asian immigration to North America, there exist deep cultural and ethnic ties between the two continents. Many Asian visitors travel to North America first to visit friends and relatives and secondly for pure leisure reasons. It is these cultural ties that help to stimulate interest in travel to both Canada and the US and form initial perceptions,” he said.
    The growing sophistication of the Asian consumer is a major factor to be considered for future growth. “The Asian middle class travels more, they are more likely to crave authentic travel experiences and demand more tailored experiences. Asian travellers are no longer considered low spenders. They are interested in stylish shopping experiences, luxury accommodations and top-quality restaurants. Also, traditional city-focused trips are no longer the norm, as historical and soft-adventure product is now in demand,” Mr de Jong said.
    Other factors likely to drive growth are the probable inclusion of South Korea on the US visa waiver programme during 2008 and the final negotiations between the US and China PRC governments of approved destination status (ADS). If approved, this should see the current 320,000 Chinese visitors to the US grow substantially.