ITB Berlin: Asia’s travel market is booming

5th Dec 2011
ITB Berlin: Asia’s travel market is booming

Rising earnings are fanning people’s desire to travel in the Asian-Pacific region. A year-on-year comparison shows that in the first eight months of 2011 the number of Asians who travelled abroad rose by six per cent. According to the findings of the latest ITB World Travel Trends Report, next year’s figure is forecast to rise by a further five per cent. China’s continuing economic boom means that its residents are particularly keen to travel their own country, a development which will also benefit the travel industry in both Europe and the Americas.

Increasing prosperity among the middle classes, particularly in China, India and Southeast Asia, is driving the tourism boom in the Asian-Pacific region. The report is compiled by IPK International and commissioned by ITB Berlin. Its figures are based on extracts from the Asian Travel Monitor and on assessments by more than 50 tourism experts and scientists from around the world.

The prospects for Asia remain good. When asked about their travel intentions next year, 32 per cent of the respondents said they aimed to travel more than in 2011, 37 per cent wanted to travel as often, and only 19 per cent said they would travel less. These are the results of the IPK International trend analysis.

New products and low-cost airlines boost growth

This trend is also responsible for an increasingly diverse range of travel products. Upmarket urban life in Asia has generated a demand for specialised products, such as history and culture, ’edutainment’ parks, adventure holidays, luxury travel and sports tourism. Next year, Japan’s travel industry will be boosted by the country becoming part of the Asian low-cost carrier network. In recent years the emergence of low-cost airlines has resulted in rising numbers from other Asian countries travelling within Asia. According to the World Travel Trends Report, more and more Arab airlines flying to Asia will also generate an increasing number of trips.


Dr. Martin Buck, the director of the Competence Center Travel and Logistics at Messe Berlin: “Asia remains one of the world’s fastest-growing travel markets and also has great potential for the European travel industry. Many tourism companies have already realised this. Simply describing one’s products in Mandarin is not enough. Marketing efforts must also take typical local aspects into account. In China, for instance, firewalls block international networking sites such as Facebook. The best way to reach Chinese people is via a local equivalent called RenRen.”

Successes and flops in Asia in 2011

Travelling in the Asian-Pacific region continues to fascinate people. In particular, countries in Southern and Southeast Asia reported significant growth. The countries ranked highest are Thailand, with close to 16 million visitors per year, and Vietnam with five million tourists from abroad. Other increasingly popular countries include destinations such as Burma, Laos and Cambodia, all of which reported two-digit growth this year.

By contrast, countries in Northeast Asia experienced a decline, in particular due to a severe fall in numbers of trips to Japan. To date, inbound tourism to Japan has failed to recover since the earthquake disaster in March 2011. During the first nine months of this year the country’s travel industry suffered a 30 per cent drop in tourism. However, unlike after previous crises, a rapid recovery is taking place. As far as their desire to travel is concerned the Japanese have barely suffered, with trips abroad falling by only six per cent. In the months after the disaster it was destinations in Asia which above all benefited from Japanese tourists. According to the Japan Travel Bureau Foundation the stress experienced after the disaster motivated people to travel instead of keeping them at home. What is more, people in Japan began to rethink their priorities, shying away from mass consumption and instead preferring energy saving and greater involvement in social and voluntary work. This also benefits tourism, as people are often now more willing to spend money on an adventure-style experience such as a vacation rather than on retail goods.

Travel industry trends in brief

Details of global travel trends will be presented by the ITB World Travel Trends Report 2011, due to be published in early December at The report is based on the assessments of 50 tourism experts from 30 countries, on a special IPK International trend analysis undertaken in leading source markets, and on core data supplied by the World Travel Monitor®, recognised as the largest continuous survey of global travel trends in some 60 source countries. The findings reflect trends which emerged during the first eight months of 2011. At the ITB Berlin Convention Rolf Freitag, CEO of IPK International, will present the findings for the entire year, as well as the latest forecasts for 2012.


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