Asian markets lead world tourism growth

In line with the continuing shift in economic power to Asia, particularly to India and China, and boosted by the upcoming Olympic Games being held in Beijing this summer, the Asia Pacific region will continue to lead world tourism growth in 2008.

This was one of the conclusions of the three-day annual Pisa Forum, organised by IPK International. Highlights of the three days of discussions and conclusions are published in the World Travel Trends Report 2007/08, sponsored for the third consecutive year by ITB Berlin.

The forecasts, based on the Asian Travel Monitor, part of IPK International’s World Travel Monitor - as well as on interim inbound arrivals data gathered by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the European Travel Commission (ETC) - show that Asia Pacific continues to be the fastest growing inbound and outbound tourism region in the world.

Asian inbound arrivals up by more than 10% in 2007

International tourist arrivals in Asia Pacific increased by more than 10% in 2007 after recording an 8% rise in 2006. And, in terms of outbound travel demand, a number of Asian markets are showing even more impressive annual growth. The top eight markets alone (Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, India, Malaysia and Thailand), according to the Asian Travel Monitor, generate over 70 million outbound trips between them overall, as well as more than 600 million foreign overnights a year, resulting in a total annual spend of more than €100 billion.

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Nevertheless, only one Asian market, Japan, currently ranks among the world’s top ten source countries for travel and tourism, with an estimated 18 million trips in 2007 - little changed over the previous year. While China’s official outbound trip count is much higher, at 34.5 million, some 70% of these trips are in fact for Hong Kong and Macau - Special Administrative Regions (SARs) of China - and therefore domestic destinations.  Real outbound trip volume was only about 13 million, according to IPK, although annual growth is around 15%, according to official data.

Europe attracts increasing numbers of Asian tourists

As reported in the World Travel Trends Report 2007/08, the majority of Asian outbound trips are still to short-haul destinations. However, Europe is beginning to attract growing numbers from different markets as Asian travellers look beyond the region to new long-haul destinations.

As an example, of the 22 countries in Europe that reported trends in arrivals and / or overnights from China in the first six to eleven months of 2007, more than 70% recorded increases from China - of more than 50% in some cases.

Less data is available so far on the Indian market in 2007 - only 13 countries have filed interim results with the ETC - but the vast majority of those reporting trends have enjoyed very strong increases, albeit from a low base. Preliminary results from IPK International suggest that Indians took some 7 million trips in 2007 overall.

The main attraction of the Indian market is not just that it is growing rapidly, although growth forecasts suggest that its growth could outpace that of China in the foreseeable future. It is more the fact that the Indian middle classes - the segment showing the strongest growth - are educated and knowledge of English is widespread, which makes foreign travel so much more easily accessible.

Increasing potential from new Asian markets

Apart from the markets already cited, there are a number of other source countries in Asia that offer good growth potential for Europe, notably South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. More details on trends out of these markets, and other emerging markets around the world, will be available from the ITB Berlin Message, the annual event held in the context of the ITB Convention during the ITB Future Day, on Wednesday 5 March.

As usual, Rolf Freitag, Chairman of IPK International and founder of the World Travel Monitor, will present the group’s final results for 2007, with an update on prospects for 2008. This will be followed by a presentation from John Koldowski, Director of the Strategic Intelligence Centre of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, of PATA’s forecasts for the booming Asia Pacific market from 2008 to 2010.
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